Hong Kong’s star soars over the world of wine
Hong Kong’s increasingly high profile as a wine hub within the world’s most vibrant economic region will ensure that the global wine industry’s focus will be firmly on the HKTDC Hong Kong Wine & Spirits Fair 2010, which takes place at the downtown location of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from 4-6 November, 2010
Since the elimination of duty on wine and beers by the Hong Kong Government in 2008, local wine-related business has experienced robust growth. Total wine imports into Hong Kong increased by 80% in 2008 and by a further 40% in 2009, reaching a value of US$500 million. In addition, the city is now the second largest centre for wine auctions in the world, having overtaken London, and is now behind only New York.
The SAR is well poised to take advantage of the growing demand for wine in the Chinese mainland. In February, Hong Kong and the mainland signed a co-operation agreement covering customs facilitation measures to ease the passage of wine entering the mainland through Hong Kong. This will enhance co-operation on wine-related matters and strengthen Hong Kong’s position as a regional wine-trading hub. Figures for the first five months of 2010 show that 33% of wine exports from Hong Kong were destined for the mainland.
Australia is to be the 2010 fair’s Partner Country, becoming the first New World wine-producing country to enjoy this honour. Australian wine will be spotlighted in a series of events including the Vino Syrah/Shiraz Forum. In addition, Argentina, France, Italy and Spain have also committed to staging group pavilions.
Last year’s show saw the inaugural Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition, which returns this year after a very successful debut. In 2009, some 1,300 wines from around the world were judged by a pan-Asian panel. The competition, which was the world’s first authentically Asian wine competition, is again organised in conjunction with London’s renowned International Wine & Spirit Competition.
The guest international judge for the second edition of HKIWSC will be Tim Atkin MW, the multi-award-winning wine writer. New for this year is an additional wine-and-food-pairing trophy for Best Wine with Sashimi, joining the four existing wine/food awards for Best Wine with Dim Sum, Kung Pao Chicken, Braised Abalone and Peking Duck respectively. A black-tie dinner will be held on the first evening of the fair, which also provides the occasion for the awards presentation ceremony.
The Wine Industry Conference is an integral part of the show. Also taking place during the show is the Asian Top Sommelier Summit, for which Gérard Basset from the UK, World’s Best Sommelier 2010, is one of the guest speakers. The fair also incorporates a series of public forums, wine-tasting sessions and master classes.
The Wine Gallery features a showcase display of Shiraz wines from around the world. Also on view are winning entries from the HKIWSC and entrants in the Most Beloved Wine contest.
The popular voting game, the Most Beloved Wine & Spirits, features two categories – white wine and red wine – and is open for voting by trade buyers and public visitors.
The 2009 edition attracted almost 12,000 trade buyers from 62 countries and regions. Among them was Mr Stéphane Boutiton, Associate, Vinomania, of France. Speaking at the show, he said: “Hong Kong is the place to be for business; the city offers a good platform to grow business in Asia and even worldwide. This fair is very professional and I am pleased to see so many young wine lovers here.” He was at the fair to find partners in Asia to open franchise wine bars & restaurants.
Mr Gianander Dua, Director of Hops Marketing in India, was visiting the fair for the second-year running. “There is an expansion in the variety of wine products on display this time with new exhibitors from countries like India and Korea,” he said. “I’ve found some good Italian products as well as Korean and Hungarian wines. I cannot find a better fair elsewhere in the region.”
Ms Lin Abbott, Founder & Vice President, Australia China Food and Beverage Association Inc., Australia, was at the show with 45 companies including wine importers and restaurant operators from Sydney and Melbourne seeking to explore business opportunities. “The fair is very well organised and offers us a great chance to taste wines from different countries such as Spain, Italy, India, Korea and Japan,” she said, adding that it had been a very rewarding experience.
Hong Kong Again Ranked World’s Freest Economy
Hong Kong remains the world’s freest economy, for the 13th year in a row, according to the findings of the Fraser Institute of Canada’s Economic Freedom of the World: 2009 Annual Report.
The report ranks 141 economies on policies that support economic freedom. Hong Kong has been holding the top place since the annual survey was started, and it pays tribute to the city’s commitment to free trade and open markets, and the elimination of barriers to trade and investment.
The findings take into account the size of government; legal structure and security of property rights; access to sound money; freedom to trade internationally; and regulation of credit, labour and business. With the highest overall score of 8.97 out of 10, the city was also ranked first for freedom of international trade, scored 9.6.
All these factors make Hong Kong very attractive to companies around the world that invest in or trade with the SAR.
The Fraser Institute is an independent economics and public policy think-tank; it first published the report in 1996. The 2009 report ranked Singapore and New Zealand in second and third places, respectively. The institute’s findings are consistent with the 2010 Index of Economic Freedom, published by The Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based think-tank, and The Wall Street Journal, in which Hong Kong has topped for 16 consecutive years.