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Speech by the Director of Marine at the
Nautical Institute’s International Seminar and AGM
13 June 2019
Captain [Nick] Nash (N.I. president), Captain [Amit] BHARGAVA (N.I. HK Branch chairman), members of the Nautical Institute, Ladies and gentlemen,
            Good morning.  On behalf of the Hong Kong Government, I would like to extend my warmest welcome to our friends from the Nautical Institute who come from all over of the world to Hong Kong.  With over 20,000 members in more than 90 countries, the Nautical Institute has been representing different sectors of the maritime industry on a global scale; and has played a pivotal role in promoting standards for safety and competency in the industry.  I am delighted that you have chosen Hong Kong as the venue for holding your AGM and the International Seminar, which is an endorsement of our position as an international maritime centre.
            Over the years, the maritime industry in Hong Kong has developed into an important engine for our economic growth.  Strategically located on the Far East trade routes, the port of Hong Kong is not only the gateway to Southern China, but is also a regional hub of the Asia-Pacific Region.  The following figures speak for themselves: the Hong Kong port is well-served by international shipping lines, with about 320 container liner services per week connecting to some 470[1] destinations worldwide.  Last year, the number of ship arrivals in respect of ocean-going cargo vessels, river cargo vessels and river passenger ferries were about 24,000, 67,600 and 81,500[2] respectively.  The Hong Kong Shipping Register has already exceeded 127 million gross tonnage[3], accounting for almost 10% of the world's merchant fleet, and is ranked fourth globally in terms of gross tonnage.  Whilst the fleet size counts, we put more emphasis on the quality of our fleet.  In 2018, the global detention rate of the Hong Kong fleet was just 0.82%, as compared to the global average of 2.68%.  In terms of services, with a cluster of over 800 shipping-related companies[4], we provide a wide range of quality maritime services, ranging from ship agency, ship management, ship broking, ship finance, to marine insurance, and maritime legal and arbitration services.   
            All these mean that we are well-placed to face the challenges and to embrace the opportunities ahead.  Speaking of opportunities, of special mention is the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area announced in February this year. The Greater Bay Area covers the two Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macao, as well as nine cities in the Guangdong Province such as Guangzhou and Shenzhen.  With a population of 70 million and a gross domestic product amounting to US$1.5 trillion, it is an enormous market.  The Outline Development Plan gives clear support for Hong Kong’s status as an international maritime centre through the development of high-end maritime services. With our strength in terms of both infrastructure and professional maritime services, this will present tremendous business opportunities for Hong Kong.  
                To ensure that our manpower resources are well-equipped to grasp the opportunities and that our maritime industry will continue to excel, we have spare no efforts in nurturing home-grown talents.  To this end, as early as in 2004, we have set up the Sea-going Training Incentive Scheme to provide financial incentives for youngsters interested in taking up cadetship training at sea and in joining the sea-going career.  The Scheme now offers a monthly subsidy of $6,000 to seagoing cadets.  As at April this year, a total of 545 youngsters have benefitted from the Scheme.  32 of them obtained the Master Mariner Certificate; another 16 obtained the Chief Engineer Certificate.  They will be valuable new blood to our industry.  
                In addition, the Government has set up the $100 million Maritime and Aviation Training Fund (MATF) in 2014 for sustaining and enhancing existing training schemes and scholarships, as well as for launching new initiatives for the maritime and aviation sectors.  The aim is to build up in due course a vibrant, diversified and competitive pool of professionals and technical personnel to support Hong Kong's future development in the two sectors.  The Fund has thus far benefitted about 7,000 students and practitioners, with about 60% of them coming from the maritime sector.  Funding approval has recently been obtained for injection of an additional $200 million into the Fund, and further initiatives will be launched to support our aspiring seafarers.  
                We fully share Nautical Institute’s commitment in enriching the professional standing and knowledge of its members from all sectors of the maritime world.  The International Seminar today provides an excellent platform for maritime professionals to share insights and experiences; get updated on new trends, new technologies and new regulations; as well as forge and renew connections.  These are all imperative to the sustainable development of the maritime industry.  Indeed, I have asked some of my younger colleagues to attend the seminar today and to learn from the speakers and participants of the very interesting topics to be discussed. I’m sure they will benefit greatly.
                I wish you all a fruitful Seminar and an enjoyable stay in Hong Kong. Thank you.


[1] https://www.brandhk.gov.hk/html/en/HongKongsAdvantages/ConnectedHongKong.html
[2] https://www.mardep.gov.hk/en/publication/pdf/portstat_pamphlet19.pdf
[3] as at 24 May 2019, Hong Kong Shipping Registry 127.6 gross tonnage
[4] https://www.bayarea.gov.hk/en/opportunities/transport.html
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updated
13 September 2020
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