Interview with Mr Frederick Ma

Mr Frederick Ma
Mr Frederick Ma
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development
Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, Govt of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, Govt of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

Beginning as a trading port in the 19th century, Hong Kong has developed into a leading financial centre. The country maintains a highly capitalist economy built on a policy of free markets, low taxation and government non-intervention. Hong Kong is the world's eleventh largest trading entity, with the total value of imports and exports exceeding its gross domestic product (GDP). During 2004 to 2007, the GDP grew at an average annual rate of 7.3% in real terms, to HK$1,627.5 billion (US$208.7 billion) in 2007. Per capita GDP reached HK$235,134 (US$ 30,157). The textiles industry is one of Hong Kong's major export earners, accounting for 3.1% of total domestic exports and employing 7.2% of the local manufacturing workforce (2006). Commerce and Economic Development Bureau of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region comprises the Commerce, Industry and Tourism Branch, the Communications and Technology Branch and the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer. The Commerce, Industry and Tourism Branch is responsible for policy matters on Hong Kong's external commercial relations, inward investment promotion, intellectual property protection, industry and business support, tourism, consumer protection and competition. In addition to this, the Bureau also oversees the operation of ten executive arms, namely the Invest Hong Kong, Intellectual Property Department, Trade and Industry Department, Hong Kong Observatory, Post Office, Innovation and Technology Commission, Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority, Radio Television Hong Kong, Office of the Telecommunications Authority, and the overseas Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices. Textiles and Clothing industry falls under the regime of Trade & Industry department of the Bureau. Mr Frederick Ma is the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development since July 2007. His policy responsibilities include external commercial relations, inward investment promotion, intellectual property protection, industry and business support, tourism development, consumer protection, competition, information and telecommunications technology, broadcasting and film services, overall view of creative industry, innovation and technology issues. Prior to his present post, Mr Ma was Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury for five years. He has also served on key posts in Pacific Century Cyberworks Limited, J.P. Morgan Private Bank, Chase Manhattan Bank, Kumagai Gumi (HK) Limited and RBC Domini

Skimming through history, we see the period 50s to 60s had witnessed Textiles serving as the backbone for the entire economy and dominating all other sectors of Hong Kong’s GDP. How about present times?

The textile and clothing business is still central to Hong Kong’s economy, accounting for 39% of our domestic exports and 11% of our re-exports among all merchandises in 2007.

Taking the talk further, can we have a broad summary on Textiles and Clothing industries in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong has emerged as a sourcing centre for a variety of industries, including textiles and clothing. A growing number of international trading houses are coming to the city to establish buying offices or intermediaries here. Advanced infrastructure and world-class professional services combined with the tacit knowledge of our enterprises – covering international rules and regulations, customer preferences, and regional sourcing knowledge – make for short lead times for delivery of quality clothing.

Although we have worked hard to establish a positive trading environment, we could not have planned or predicted our biggest competitive advantage – our proximity to the Mainland of China. We just happened to be in the right place at the right time! Today, the Pearl River Delta is known as the ‘factory of the world’, and many of our manufacturers have been operating across the boundary for decades. And as people in the Mainland become increasingly well off, on the back of China’s booming economy, the increasingly affluent middle-class have emerged as a new target market for high quality products and the latest fashion trends.

In your view, what all are the possible repercussions of globalization on your country's Economy?

Hong Kong – like many of our competitors in the region – has had to move with the times. As Asia’s world city, we have attached great importance to our role as an international business centre. Recently, TIME magazine has recognized Hong Kong as a lynchpin of the globalised economy, along with New York and London. The magazine coined the name “Nylonkong” to describe the interconnectivity between the three cities in our globalised world. Our international role has greatly enhanced the quality, range and efficiency of services we can provide to the textiles and clothing industry.

Published on: 05/05/2008

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of

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