Financial Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen yesterday warned sceptics not to write off Asia-Pacific economies, saying the rebound in Hong Kong and the region was gathering momentum. The economies of East Asia were 'once again on the march', said Mr Tsang, who is in Vancouver on the first stop of a trip to Canada and the United States. He was speaking at a dinner hosted by the Vancouver Board of Trade and the Hong Kong-Canada Business Association. He said the severity of the financial crisis might have led some commentators to underestimate the region's significance. 'There certainly hasn't been much talk in recent times about the 'Pacific century',' Mr Tsang said. 'But, to my mind, that silence may be premature and even unwise. The regional rebound is gathering momentum.' He pointed to growth in Japan and the double-digit rebound of Hong Kong's gross domestic product in the first quarter. 'So, are we heading for a significant revival? It's probably too early to give a cast-iron answer, but I believe the signs are encouraging,' he said. The Government has revised its economic growth forecast for this year from five per cent to six per cent. The medium-range forecast of an overall trend of four per cent growth over the next four years was, 'looking good'. The 'remarkable flexibility and adaptability of our workforce and entrepreneurs' was behind the strong rebound. 'We have reduced business costs, improved efficiency and enhanced productivity,' he said. 'These were not government-imposed measures. They were the direct result of market forces at play in what is still the world's freest economy.' The Asian turmoil was a wake-up call. 'We heard the ringing and set about implementing fundamental reforms and economic restructuring,' Mr Tsang said. 'But before I get carried away, we still have quite a lot to do if the recovery is to be sustainable.' Continued reform of the economic structure was required. 'We need to watch carefully the international trade environment, particularly in the US following recent interest rate hikes, which could prompt a slow-down in the near term,' he said. 'And we need to monitor the current volatility in global financial markets and the fluid situation across the Taiwan Strait.'