1 April 1999
TDC NEWS (HKTDC Houseware,1999)
TOY FAIR SET ATTENDANCE RECORD
A TOTAL of 24,087 visitors seeking new products and the latest market information flocked to Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair '99, according to the fair's independent auditor, FKM of Germany.
Organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC), the fair was held from January 11 to 14 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (CEC).
The number of buyers increased 71%, with buyers from outside Hong Kong accounting for 48% of the total. Top on the list were buyers from the US, Japan, Taiwan, mainland China, South Korea, Australia, Germany, the Philippines, the UK and Canada.
"The strong attendance reflects a growth in confidence of buyers in the performance of the toy industry ahead. Buyers from the US increased by 60%, indicating strong Christmas sales in the market and a need for the companies to refill stocks. A surge in the number of buyers from Japan [up 19.2%] and South Korea [up 130.7%] reflects a recovery in the markets and an increase of purchasing power among buyers," said chairman of TDC's toys advisory committee Edmund Young.
He said traditional toys equipped with new electronic devices still maintain their popularity in the market, and that mid-range toys and games are the most sought-after items.
Featuring 1,460 exhibitors from 25 countries and regions, the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair is the third-largest toy fair worldwide and the largest of its kind in Asia. The strong turnout further affirms the leading position of the fair and Hong Kong's status as a trade fair capital in Asia.
Joining hundreds of Hong Kong exhibitors were seven international pavilions - from mainland China, Germany, South Korea, Macau, Spain, Taiwan and Thailand - along with many other overseas exhibitors.
Representing the German pavilion, Corinna Printzen, executive director of the Assn of German Toys Industries, said: "The international character of the fair offers excellent opportunities for cultivating existing and making new business contacts. We met buyers from all over the world, including from new markets like Russia and the Middle East."
Dudsadee Laoticharoen, president of the Thai Toy Industry Assn, said participation in the Thailand pavilion has risen to 22 this year from 20 last year, with six more outside the pavilion.
Laoticharoen said: "We have taken part as a pavilion for the past five years. The fair is important to our manufacturers and most exhibitors said they will come back next year."
Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair 2000 is slated for January 10-13 at the CEC.
HK$1bn PLAN TO SPUR EXPORTS
THE Council has launched a HK$1bn trade and services promotional plan to help Hong Kong companies market their products and services across the globe this year.
"In these tough times it is particularly necessary for TDC to do more to help Hong Kong companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs], compete in overseas markets," TDC executive director Michael Sze said at a 1998 year-end briefing.
"We'll do more with less by improving productivity, keeping services to the public open for longer hours, being more selective in our promotional planning and by re-channelling resources to boost activities in more promising markets. We are now going through a vigorous exercise to examine ways to cut internal costs, increase the value of every dollar we spend on promotion and add more value to the programmes and service we provide."
Sze said TDC will spend more than 60% of its HK$1.63bn budget for the 1999-2000 financial year on promotional activities and on providing timely market intelligence and business information, which are crucial for local enterprises seeking new business opportunities.
"We've always tried to maintain the cost of running the Council at a low level so that more resources can be used for promotional activities. This year is particularly so, when everyone out there is looking at ways to cut costs. TDC is no exception," Sze said.
He said TDC has developed a comprehensive trade promotion programme for the manufacturing and services sectors in close consultation with those industries. "With more than 300 promotional events, the programme will take Hong Kong companies to every corner of the globe. But most importantly, to where there are business opportunities," Sze said.
He said TDC is especially committed to providing practical support for SMEs, the backbone of Hong Kong's economy. "With the opening of the expanded TDC Business InfoCentre and the new SME Service Centre this year, we offer the best information services and professional advice. And it's tailored to the special needs of SMEs. We have also extended the opening hours of the centre to cover Saturday afternoons."
Sze said the Council is continuing to invest in the future for trade promotion by strengthening and upgrading key offices in its overseas network, and improving support services for its international trade fairs in Hong Kong. The construction of TDC's new Exhibition Services and Logistics Centre at Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate is on schedule for completion this summer. It will be double the size of the existing facility at Yuen Long and offer a broader range of services.
"The centre will help improve the cost efficiency of TDC's trade fairs, which will benefit local exhibitors, and set the highest standards for these international events in Hong Kong."
Late last year TDC began stepping up efforts to nurture a virtual business community in Hong Kong. TDC's deputy executive director Anna Lai said in her welcoming remarks at the Open Forum on Hong Kong's Information Technology Strategy that apart from enhancing all Internet and e-commerce applications that TDC has on hand, it will incorporate new ideas and facilities in response to changing world market trends and the needs of local companies.
Projects in the pipeline include promotions to boost electronic data interchange (EDI), an enabling step of e-commerce, through linkages with the TDC Web site.
"It has been the TDC's IT vision to become Asia's most powerful information source and electronic marketplace that is used by everyone doing business with Hong Kong and the Asia-Pacific region. We see an urgent task to prepare Hong Kong companies, especially SMEs, for the information age," Lai said.
NEW LONDON OFFICE TO BOOST TIES
TDC HAS opened a new and expanded office in London to foster stronger economic ties between Hong Kong and the UK.
The premises, owned by TDC, are in the heart of London's retail and commercial district - at No. 16 Upper Grosvenor Street - and will serve as its regional headquarters in Europe, denoting TDC's strategy to increase promotional activities in the UK and mainland Europe.
TDC's executive director Michael Sze said at the opening ceremony that the new office demonstrates the Council's investment in the future, preparing for Hong Kong's imminent economic recovery. "Moving to the new premises underlines our intention to be here for the long term. With this new office we are ready to meet the increased challenges of the new century," Sze said.
He said business between Hong Kong and the UK is set to expand and deepen. One specific area of opportunity is in the provision of services, because there is a growing number of more flexible firms, especially in the UK, that are eager to take their services overseas.
"For such companies, far from retracting from the world stage Asia instead remains a focus for growth. Far from pulling back, Western companies remain aggressively interested. TDC aims to facilitate the trade in services. It makes sense to upgrade our capabilities in London, the services capital of Europe," Sze said.
Among those pledging confidence in the economic future of the Asia-Pacific was Sir Martin Laing, chairman of the British Overseas Trade Board, who was guest of honour at the occasion.
Sir Martin said: "China with Hong Kong now receives the highest possible priority from the Department of Trade and Industry in terms of resources devoted to trade promotion. This reflects not just their current importance but the even greater potential importance of the medium and longer term."
He said Hong Kong is important as a market in its own right, as a centre for UK investment, and as an entry point for UK companies that seek to penetrate the mainland China market.
"The wealth of expertise that exists in Hong Kong on doing business with [mainland] China can provide an invaluable source of support for British companies, in particular, small and medium-sized enterprises, who are serious about doing business with China," Sir Martin said.
TDC set up its first overseas office in London in 1966, the same year the Council was established. The UK is Hong Kong's fifth-largest export market and ninth-largest source of imports. In the first 10 months of 1998 Hong Kong's total exports to the UK grew 5.8% to HK$43bn. The overall size of external trade is now 42 times that of 1966.
The UK was the largest foreign investor in Hong Kong's non-manufacturing sectors and the fourth-largest foreign investor in Hong Kong's manufacturing industry in 1996.
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