1 Jan 2001
UK Hears 'Exciting' Message(HKTDC Fashion - Leather Goods & Bags, Vol 01,2001)
A NEW dynamism prevails in Hong Kong as the Chinese mainland prepares to enter the World Trade Organization (WTO), Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) chairman Peter Woo told UK business leaders recently.
The Chinese mainland's international trading activity may double within five years of the country's WTO accession. That translates into vast opportunities for, and through, Hong Kong, already one of Asia's most dynamic economies.
"For the first time, Hong Kong can look to the mainland as a domestic market. This is exciting, for as Europe, the US and Japan demonstrate, no economy can be totally successful in global trade without a significant domestic market," Woo told guests while hosting the TDC's annual London dinner for the first time.
"Hong Kong has a strong first-mover advantage in the mainland market, one we wish to share with British companies," he added.
Woo noted that to go beyond a middleman role, forward-looking Hong Kong companies successfully had moved up the value chain and were becoming closer to consumers with their products, distribution and branding capabilities.
"We have established ourselves as the global trade platform for companies to produce in China, sell to the world and sell to China. In fact, one could say Hong Kong has diligently prepared for China's WTO entry throughout the last 50 years."
Woo said TDC priorities included supporting global outreach by Hong Kong's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Describing them as "our champions in world markets", he said their flexibility in changing markets and their ability to customize combined to make Hong Kong special.
"They seek strategic partnerships overseas and on the mainland with small, medium and large companies. TDC will build alliances with banks and chambers of commerce to help potential strategic partners find each other," Woo added.
"That great 'philosopher', Woody Allen, once said that 80% of success is showing up. I am sure new waves of British entrepreneurs and enterprises will do more than just show up in Hong Kong. I am sure they will be successful. Their success is, of course, Hong Kong's success."
Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, a guest of honour at the dinner, delivered a keynote address. "Hong Kong is ideally situated for British companies to take advantage of economic activities in Asia," he said.
"There is a very strong relationship between the UK and Hong Kong. There is a lot of good will, and I hope British companies will take full advantage by coming and working from Hong Kong as a base for operations in Asia."
The UK guest of honour at the event was the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Irvine of Lairg, who said Hong Kong's legal system underpinned its status as a great centre for trade and finance.
Three hundred business leaders, senior government and trade officials attended the dinner. Among the guests were the Chinese mainland ambassador to the UK Ma Zhengang, former TDC chairman Baroness Dunn and Hong Kong commerce and industry secretary Chau Tak-hay.
Taiwan Prospects Prove Lasting
TAIWAN'S services market offers vast growth potential and will provide significant business opportunities to Hong Kong companies for years to come, according to a TDC report.
Services liberalization in Taiwan is entering a critical stage, says the new report, entitled Services Liberalization In Taiwan & Opportunities For Hong Kong Business.
Concrete measures to help transform Taiwan into an Asia-Pacific Regional Operations Centre (APROC) will be implemented. More important, Taiwan's eventual entry to the World Trade Organization means many remaining restrictions on foreign investment in the services sector will be removed.
Liberalization measures have led to sustained rapid growth in Taiwan's services sector during the past decade. In the early 1990s, services accounted for half of GDP. Now the figure approaches 70%.
Foreign investment in Taiwan's services sector has tripled to US$2.7bn in 1999, up from US$949m in 1995, equivalent to 30% average annual growth.
Hong Kong follows the US and Japan as the third-largest foreign investor in Taiwan. Companies based in Hong Kong are preferred foreign partners for their Taiwanese counterparts due to cultural and language proximity, plus shared regional business interests.
Banks based in Hong Kong enjoy an edge in using their established networks to facilitate indirect trade and investment between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland.
Additional opportunities arise because Taiwan's e-commerce market is forecast to soar 10-fold in the next few years. Considering the mass and speed at which Taiwan is embracing the Internet, broadband access, Internet content and data-traffic sectors offer tremendous potential for Hong Kong companies.
Trade Fairs Gain Acclaim
SIX major trade fairs organized by TDC gained recognition for quality excellence from UFI, the Union des Foires Internationales (Union of International Trade Fairs), at the Ordinary General Assembly of the 67th UFI Congress in November.
UFI, a key 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).
These UFI-approved fairs attract more than 8,500 exhibitors and 160,000 buyers per year. Half the buyers and many exhibitors come from overseas. All six 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 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 Milan, Italy, 75 years ago, 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.
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