1 Feb 2001
International Traders Score A Triple-Trillion Triumph(HKTDC Fashion - Footwear,2001)
INTERNATIONAL trade, Hong Kong's core business, is vital to an era of sustainable wealth creation, according to Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) chairman Peter Woo.
"Total value of Hong Kong's external trade in goods and services topped HK$3 trillion (US$385bn) in 2000. Trade stayed well above HK$3 trillion even during the worst Asian recession in a generation. Once again, it kept us going through tough times and led economic recovery," Woo recently said during a media briefing.
The strength of Hong Kong's external trade is a powerful reminder of its critical importance. "Trade employs close to half Hong Kong's workforce and generates almost half our total earnings, but we cannot afford to take this steady paycheque for granted. We must work harder to increase it," Woo said.
He believes the potential to bolster Hong Kong trade has never been greater. Unprecedented opportunities will unfold as the Chinese mainland enters the World Trade Organization and as supply chains globalize.
"Hong Kong companies will be able to sell to the mainland while manufacturing products there for the world. For the first time they will have a huge domestic market, one where they have a strong first-mover advantage."
The mainland is a major focus for TDC, with more than 100 promotional projects to be organized there this year.
Hong Kong companies can use e-commerce to expand their pivotal role in managing global supply chains. "The Internet enables Hong Kong companies to accelerate their move to the higher-value end of the supply chain," Woo says.
Another priority is to forge strategic alliances between Hong Kong SMEs and mid-sized overseas firms. "TDC's global network of offices actively seeks potential partners for these SMEs, region by region, city by city, sector by sector.
"We also offer Hong Kong companies and their trade partners a physical marketplace at our Hong Kong international trade fairs and a cyber marketplace at our Internet portal, tdctrade.com," Woo said.
TRADE figures indicate that Mexico has become Hong Kong's leading market in Latin America.
TDC's research department, in a new report, notes that the free-trade agreement between Mexico, Canada and the US has created a progressively promising investment environment in Mexico for Hong Kong traders intent on serving and expanding their markets in North America.
Total Hong Kong exports to Mexico reached HK$6.2bn (US$795m) in the first nine months of 2000, surging 57% on the same period in 1999.
TDC economist Edwin Lee says rapid economic growth, rising consumer purchasing power and close relationships with the US and Canada have made Mexico a market of vast potential and a prime investment destination.
Mexico's industrialization, economic development and expanding middle class combine to boost the appetite for imported goods like fashions, consumer electronics and computers. The report also advises Hong Kong companies to supply more parts and components to Mexican manufacturers.
Given its preferential NAFTA treatment, Mexico is a prominent gateway to the US market, prompting Hong Kong companies to consider setting up manufacturing activities there.
"Ten years ago, hardly anyone would imagine that a favourite car - the New Beetle - and colour televisions would be made in Mexico. NAFTA has transformed the country, thereby creating an economic powerhouse in Latin America."
The report also alerts Hong Kong traders to heed Mexican regulations. Various documentary requirements apply. Anti-dumping duties aimed at many China-origin products inevitably reduce the competitiveness of the products affected.
SIX major trade fairs organized by TDC received international acclaim for quality excellence from UFI, the Union des Foires Internationales (Union of International Trade Fairs), at its Ordinary General Assembly of the 67th UFI Congress in November.
UFI, an important organization for the global trade fair industry, has also granted full membership to TDC. The 67th UFI Congress took place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The TDC trade fairs voted as UFI-approved events are: the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair (each January), the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show (March), the Hong Kong Gifts & Houseware Fair (April), Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair (September), Hong Kong Electronics Fair (October) and Hong Kong Optical Fair (November).
Each year, these six UFI-approved fairs attract more than 8,500 exhibitors and 160,000 buyers. Half the buyers and many exhibitors come from overseas. In all the respective industries, these trade fairs play a leading role as one-stop sourcing opportunities in Asia.
"UFI exercises strict membership admission criteria. We are very happy our trade fairs were granted the UFI status, which is a label of quality. The granting of UFI membership to TDC means the quality of our trade fairs and the services provided to exhibitors and visitors are at high international standards," says TDC executive director Michael Sze.
Founded in 1925 in Milan, UFI has some 180 members (including fair/exhibition organizers, venue owners and associate members) who regularly arrange 550 UFI-approved exhibitions in 70 countries and 140 cities.
A POWERFUL alliance of entrepreneurs from Hong Kong's major markets was formed on 27 November to provide a platform for business interaction on a global basis anchored in Hong Kong.
The alliance, called the Federation of Hong Kong Business Associations Worldwide, was created by representatives of 25 Hong Kong business groups from North America, Europe, Australasia and Asia. Most of the 7,700 members in these business groups are SMEs. In late November, more than 150 delegates from the member associations gathered in Hong Kong.
Aiming to strengthen links with Hong Kong and among member associations, the federation provides a cohesive framework for networking and co-operation. TDC organized the November meeting and plans to establish a Web site to facilitate the federation's work.
TDC chairman Peter Woo says this powerful global alliance boosts multilateral interaction. He urged participants to leverage Hong Kong's connections to build a matrix of alliances.
Woo says Hong Kong's network of overseas business groups helps to expand the critical mass of global business transacted in and through Hong Kong.
The federation's inaugural chairman, Maxwell Brotman from Canada, approves of targeting SMEs. "Working with TDC, we will try matching SMEs with appropriate Hong Kong business partners," he says.
Brotman believes the environment, IT and manufacturing are key opportunity areas in most markets. "Our top priority is to make our membership familiar, in a comprehensive way, with what is happening in Hong Kong," he adds.
Federation members elected Bjorn Larsen of Denmark as vice-chairman, David Chu of Australia as honorary treasurer and Christopher Leu of southern California as honorary secretary.
The 150 members of overseas Hong Kong business associations attended a two-day Hong Kong Forum organized by TDC. Chaired by the Hong Kong-Canada Business Association's past-chairman David Matheson, the forum focused on new opportunities in Hong Kong, the Chinese mainland and the region.
TDC has fostered and supported the creation of Hong Kong business associations around the world since 1978.
STRENGTHENING partnerships between Japanese and Hong Kong SMEs to explore opportunities on the Chinese mainland ranked high on the agenda at a joint plenary meeting of the Japan/Hong Kong and Hong Kong/Japan Business Cooperation Committees held in Tokyo on 12 December.
Collaboration with Hong Kong companies is especially valuable to newcomers on the mainland, agreed members of the two committees, who are all chairmen and chief executives of companies in Japan and Hong Kong.
The Tokyo meeting was co-chaired by Japan/Hong Kong Business Cooperation Committee adviser Tomiichi Akiyama and Hong Kong/Japan Business Cooperation Committee chairman Dr. Raymond Ch'ien.
Market opening as the mainland enters the World Trade Organization creates a powerful stimulus and countless opportunities, the members noted. They identified IT and e-commerce, financial services, distribution and logistics as specific sectors where Japanese and Hong Kong companies can work together to mutual benefit on the Chinese mainland. They also see potential for Japanese companies and Hong Kong partners to make consumer goods in the Pearl River Delta for the huge mainland market.
Japanese expertise in developing natural resources, infrastructure and telecoms, plus Hong Kong's "first mover" advantage on the mainland, may create a competitive, strategic alliance in China's interior provinces.
The next plenary meeting takes place in Hong Kong. TDC serves as secretariat for the Hong Kong/Japan Business Cooperation Committee.
FOR the second consecutive year, a Hong Kong designer-collections show in Japan during the country's top fashion event, Tokyo Collection, gained rave reviews and impressive on-the-spot orders.
Featuring spring/summer 2001 collections by designers Barney Cheng, Joanna Chu-Liao and Vicky Lam, the show took place in Tokyo's Spiral Hall on 7 November.
Watching were buyers from top stores like Barneys Japan, Isetan, Marui, Beams and Seibu, plus writers from major fashion publications, including High Fashion, So-en and Gap Japan. The catwalk display prompted a post-show buying spree.
Seibu Department Store fashion buyer Toshiko Yoshida said: "Barney Cheng's knit items with beading are excellent and reasonably priced. I also like Joanna Chu-Liao's simple, well-designed jackets, with their subtle details."
Reputable fashion journalists also raved. "Joanna's dresses present such a modern, ultra-elegant and feminine look for contemporary women, and the floral motifs are fantastic," said freelance writer Tomoko Oka.
Another journalist, Ms Miyazawa from WWD Japan, said: "Vicky Lam's collection was well presented, allowing the audience to see great aspects of the different outfits."
The promotion was part of TDC's ongoing efforts to highlight Hong Kong capabilities in global fashion. Hong Kong designer-collection events were also staged at "7th on Sixth" in New York and at Australian Fashion Week in Sydney.
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