Many of you may already have local partners here or some of you may be looking for exploration of new terrain. Now, with Hong Kong as a gateway to the flourishing Asia-Pacific wine market, you will find us an ideal testing ground for you to establish a foothold and expand your market share in our part of the world. Not only do we charge no wine duty, GST (goods & services tax) or VAT (value-added tax), Hong Kong is also well known for our world-class commercial infrastructure for the wine industry and business to thrive. We have multi-talented wine and culinary professionals, sommeliers, and the world’s first wine storage certification scheme, just to name a few.
Now, speaking of the Mainland market, which is indeed our top wine re-export destination, we have shipped more than HK$2.2 billion worth of bottles in the first eight months of this year. Apart from our obvious proximity and our thorough knowledge of the Mainland market, wine traders based in Hong Kong can also enjoy instant customs clearance when they move the wines into the Mainland under our wine customs facilitation scheme.
Hong Kong has been maintaining close relationship and partnership with major wine-producing countries and regions. The success of the fair bears testimony to the fruits, or rather vintages, of such co-operation over the years. And I understand that 11 years ago, we started with 200 exhibitors and now we have 1,075 today. We believe that our new memorandum of understanding with the Bordeaux region will further foster ties between the two places.
Acting Financial Secretary James Lau gave these remarks at the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair 2018 opening ceremony on November 8.