Wine Trading and Distribution Businesses
I now turn to wine trading and distribution businesses. According to industry estimates, total spending on table wine in the Asian economies excluding Japan is around $55 billion, which accounts for about seven per cent of the global market. The industry forecasts that there will be a considerable growth in table wine spending in this region and that the economies with the largest growth will include the Mainland, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.
Kong's advantageous geographical location, advanced transport and logistics infrastructure and rich experience in international promotion are favourable to the development of trading, storage and distribution of quality table wine.
Currently, London is the trading and distribution centre of quality table wine for the world. The industry indicates that many of the businesses there are owned by Hong Kong companies. It is expected that by developing the various businesses in Hong Kong relating to quality table wine, our total business volume in trading, storage and auction of table wine may increase by as much as $4 billion. We believe that, in the long run, this will create more favourable conditions for the development of such economic activities as catering services, tourism, brand promotion and exhibitions, table wine appreciation and related educational activities that can achieve synergy with table wine trading and create new jobs.
After taking into account the development potential and the job opportunities that can be created, I believe that we should support the further development of these businesses in Hong Kong. The industry has indicated that the current duty on alcoholic beverages and the related administrative controls are the major obstacles to the development of the businesses. I propose to exempt the duties on wine, beer and all other alcoholic beverages except spirits with immediate effect, and remove the related administrative controls upon amendment of the relevant legislation, so as to facilitate the import, export and storage of these alcoholic beverages. The proposal will cost the Government about $560 million a year.