The value of wine imported to Hong Kong in 2013 failed to rise on 2012, but regional officials used the opening of Vinexpo Asia-Pacific to re-emphasise the region's growth story since abolishing duty tax on wines in 2008.
Hong Kong imported US$1bn of wine in 2013 and $100m of wine was re-exported to Mainland China, said Gregory So (pictured), the region's secretary of commerce and economic development, at the opening of the Vinexpo Asia-Pacific expo this morning (27 May).
He said that the 2013 import figure is five times the value of wine imported in 2007, the final year prior to the regional government abolishing duty tax in order to promote itself as a gateway to Mainland China.
However, figures from the Hong Kong Trade Development Council show that the region also imported around US$1bn of wine in 2012, which was an 18% drop on the value of imports in 2011.
The lack of a rebound in 2013 suggests that Hong Kong has continued to feel the knock-on effects of the Chinese government's austerity measures, which have damaged high-end wine sales by curtailing officials' entertainment spending both within the region and in Mainland China.
Several importers in Hong Kong have described the current regional market conditions as tough, especially for top end Bordeaux.
But, secretary So told journalists that Hong Kong remains a key 'stepping stone' to Mainland China and that the potential for wine consumption growth is strong.
'The biggest growth comes from mid-range wines,' said France's Consul General in Hong Kong, Arnaud Barthelemy, also speaking at the Vinexpo opening ceremony. 'I believe this is a very positive development, because it shows that the market is becoming more mainstream.'
Vinexpo chairman Xavier de Eizaguirre said that the shows expects to welcome 18,000 wine trade visitors over the next three days and has increased stand space by 50% versus its previous Asia-Pacific show, in 2012.
This suggests ongoing confidence in Asia's wine market, he said, adding, 'Vinexpo is a gauge of the pulse of Asia's wine market.' Half of the exhibitors at the show are French.
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