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TDC NEWS(HKTDC Fashion - Fabrics & Accessories, Vol 01,2000)

Vol 1 2000

- Hong Kong Emerges Stronger From Asian Crisis
- Record Attendance At Fashion Week
- Book Fair Celebrates 10th Anniversary
- Film Show Taps Asia's Cable, Satellite TV Markets


Hong Kong Emerges Stronger From Asian Crisis

HONG Kong is emerging from Asia's economic crisis leaner, healthier and more competitive, according to the chairman of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) Victor Fung.

In a message in TDC's 1998/99 Annual Report, Fung says the past year has been one of the most challenging years Hong Kong has faced, with a dramatic downturn in economic activity.

However, Fung says Hong Kong's fundamental strengths -- its role as mainland China's trade, investment and expertise channel; its status as the region's services hub; and its worldwide manufacturing and commercial network -- have not been damaged by the crisis. In fact, in comparison with other economies, they are "more compelling than ever" and, arguably, more in demand.

Hong Kong's combination of institutional strengths, such as the rule of law, clean government, modern regulatory systems and unrestricted flow of information remains unique in the region, he adds.

But, Fung says, Hong Kong needs to sharpen its performance as a free trader, a service centre and an economy focused around value-added information and expertise in order to move ahead of the competition.

On the operational front, TDC executive director Michael Sze reports that TDC had recorded a HK$23m deficit on cash accounting basis for 1998/99, which has been covered from TDC's reserves.

This is because the government's subsidy has fallen by HK$184m as a result both of its decision last year to lower customs declaration charges and a drop in trade values.

Out of the total expenditure in the audited accounts of HK$1.52bn in 1998/99, more than HK$1bn has been used to promote Hong Kong exports of products and services worldwide.

With prudent financial management, Sze says that TDC has been able to provide more services with less resources. "Tough times are exactly when we must promote harder. Doing more with less has therefore become the story of this past year, one of the most difficult in memory for Hong Kong's trade and one of the most challenging for the Council," Sze says.

To help Hong Kong companies weather this difficult period, TDC has frozen participation fees, introduced incentive packages for first-time participants, and returned to customers savings from exchange rate fluctuations or the better terms successfully negotiated with TDC's promotional partners overseas. Staff salaries have been frozen, overtime cut by more than half and productivity has risen.

Among the highlights of TDC's year, as covered in the report, is the opening of the expanded TDC Business InfoCentre -- a HK$22m investment in serving the changing information needs of customers.

Other highlights include:

  1. The near completion of a HK$183m three-year IT upgrade programme, adding information and functions that make www.tdc.org.hk an essential port of call for international businesses entering Hong Kong from cyberspace.

  2. Hong Kong Enterprise Internet becoming the platform for 9,000 local advertisers to market their products and services to potential customers on the Internet worldwide.

  3. The contribution by TDC's 21 international trade fairs in maintaining Hong Kong's lead as Asia's trade fair capital.

  4. The Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, developed by the TDC, celebrating its 10th anniversary with a decade of remarkable growth.

Record Attendance At Fashion Week

SIGNS of improving market situation are apparent as a record 11,051 visitors flocked to the Hong Kong Fashion Week for Spring/Summer 2000, according to fair organiser, the TDC.

Buyer attendance was up 14.3% over last year, with the number of overseas visitors rising by 33.4%, compared with last year's figure. Of all visitors, 4,116 came from areas outside Hong Kong. Topping the list were visitors from mainland China, followed by Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore and the US.

Among them, traders from North America showed the strongest growth, up 52.5% on 1998. They were followed by visitors from Asia (up 36%), the Middle East (25.5%), Europe (24.3%), Central and South America (22.2%) and Australia and the Pacific (up 5.6%).

For individual countries, Thailand (up 159.4%), South Korea (105%), the UK (74.6%), the US (69.9%), Malaysia (46.2%) and mainland China (41.2%) all reported significant growth.

"Hong Kong Fashion Week provides the prime setting for fashion traders to plan ahead and stock for the new millennium. The growth in attendance is an indication that the market situation is improving," said TDC's director of exhibitions CS Lee.

"It clearly demonstrates that Hong Kong continues to be the international sourcing hub for all kinds of fashion and accessories. It has also developed into an event for showcasing creativity, collecting market intelligence and trends," Lee said.

Emilia Fabricant, senior vice-president of prominent buyer Barneys New York, said Hong Kong has lots of potential: "It's interesting to find and explore new designers. The exhibition has been really good for us in terms of production and manufacturing, as well as for finished products."

Saffron Swansborough, from the UK, found there were so many more choices at the fair and it was good for accessories. Australian supplier Karyn Bianco said the fair had proved to be a great place for knitwear.

Lee is also happy to have the continuous support of group participation from outside Hong Kong. Making a debut among them was the Korean Pavilion. Organised by the Korea Fashion Assn, 15 exhibitors and six designers came for international buyers at the fair.

Nam Hyo Jin, managing director of South Korea's Deco Co Ltd, said the company is looking for franchisees for the Deco brand and to expand into the Asian market.

Apart from South Korea, other group participation remained strong. There were pavilions representing mainland China, Taiwan, Macau, India, Thailand and Europe.

Europe's latest designs were featured at the Europe Selection, organised by Igedo Co. It featured a wide range of clothes and accessories, including ladieswear, menswear, lingerie, casualwear and leatherwear, hosiery and beachwear.

Gerald Bose, managing director of Igedo, said: "The fashion market for European business starts in Hong Kong at Europe Selection. On-going business relations are extended and new ones built-up through information exchange and service offers."

Local exhibitor Nice Girl's general manager Sandy Cheung said: "The fair is an excellent place for newcomers to start networking with buyers around the globe. The fashion shows also added value to the fair, as they attract more buyers to the venue."

At the four-day event, buyers met 344 exhibitors from 14 countries and regions, of which 219 were from Hong Kong.

In the trend stakes, Woolmark Co presented colour and fabric directions for the upcoming season: bark-like textures and coated fabrics inspired by rope and hessian, updated with subtle metallic components; silhouettes are sculptural; colours lively with a warm, saturated palette; and patterning is revisited, adding excitement to fluid designs.

Book Fair Celebrates 10th Anniversary

THE favourite summer pastime for book-lovers --the Hong Kong Book Fair -- celebrates its 10th anniversary this year at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from July 21-26.

Organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC), this year's event featured many new services and activities to mark the occasion, including a Weekend Night Bookmart, which opened until 10pm.

TDC's senior manager of exhibitions Benjamin Chau said: "The Book Fair is the place where readers can find newly released titles from more than 360 book companies, and where they can meet and exchange views with their favourite authors.

"We will launch a Weekend Night Bookmart to cater to book-lovers who cannot come during the day. On two special evenings, readers can visit the fair after work or dinner. Away from the daytime high temperatures and hectic work schedule, they can leisurely choose their summer reading for an extra couple of hours," Chau said.

Internationally renowned authors, including poet/author Yu Kwang-chung from Taiwan, Yu Qiu-yu from mainland China and Japanese novelist Junichi Watanabe, were special guests at the 10th Book Fair.

Also new to the 10th event was a book delivery service which made shopping easier, especially for oversized pictorials or hardcovers.

Apart from providing a marketing platform for publishers and book companies, the Book Fair also offered a forum for copyright trading for rights agents and publishers in its trade section -- the International Copyright Exchange (ICE).

To tie in with the ICE, the Asian Publishing Conference, organised on 23 July, discussed the topic: Breaking Through Uncertainties: The Publishing Industry in the Next Millennium.

Film Show Taps Asia's Cable, Satellite TV Markets

THE Hong Kong International Film and Television Market (FILMART '99), which closed on 25 June, attracted 550 trade buyers from 26 countries and regions, looking for the latest film and television productions.

Organised by TDC, FILMART '99 featured a record 82 film and television production and distribution companies from eight countries and regions and was held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

"The majority of trade visitors came from the Asia-Pacific region, underlining FILMART's status as the region's premier trading forum for films and TV programmes. Apart from Hong Kong, there were visitors from mainland China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Australia," said director of TDC's services promotion Alan Wong.

"The expanded format of this year's event to include also television helped exhibitors tap Asia's burgeoning cable and satellite TV markets," Wong said.

This was the third time that Golden Harvest Entertainment Co Ltd took part in FILMART. Company vice-president Gordon Cheung said that this year's event, which emphasised television, suited the industry's needs. "For production and distribution companies, tele-movie and video markets are gaining greater share in their business turnover. Therefore, they are eager to further develop these markets."

Cheung said that Golden Harvest screened footage of its new martial arts drama -- A Hero in China -- at FILMART. "Though the movie was not yet completed, buyers were so impressed by its martial arts action and special effects," Cheung said.

"This year, we have achieved the same results as last year. Most of our buyers were from Southeast Asia, while others came from Latin America and Europe," he said.

TVBI Co Ltd was one of the local exhibitors from the television industry. The company's senior marketing communications officer Hermia Ma said: "We need to have our presence at this event. We aim to promote our satellite television channels and we have met many Chinese mainland buyers."

The China Film Producers' Assn organised 12 major film studios to take part in the event. Association secretary-general Fei Jun said: "Our goal is to explore the cable and terrestrial television markets because there is a growing demand for tele-movies in Southeast Asia. FILMART is an ideal marketplace for us to meet our counterparts. This is especially crucial to our future business development."

The newly formed Italian Cinema Promotion Agency participated in FILMART for the first time. Agency president Luciana Castellina said: "Hong Kong has a long-standing and important tradition of cinema. Furthermore, it is located in a strategic place to do business in Southeast Asia and China. These are the two good reasons why we attended FILMART, to increase the visibility of Italian films throughout Asia."

During the fair period, the TDC organised Forum '99, a series of discussions on Asia's film financing, to prepare the way for the launch of the first Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum next year.

Gordon Chan from the Hong Kong Film Directors' Guild, also one of the forum's co-chairmen, concluded from the discussions that Hong Kong and Asian film-makers should consider following the financing model of overseas film studios.

"They need to consider film projects that will attract financial support from the banking sector, because some US bankers have shown interest in financing Asian films," he said.

FILMART '99 was supported by the Hong Kong, Kowloon & New Territories Motion Picture Industry Assn and the Movie Producers and Distributors Assn of Hong Kong. It was also sponsored by City Entertainment magazine.

The next FILMART is scheduled for June 28-30, 2000, at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

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