1 Sept 2000
TDC NEWS(HKTDC Watch & Clock, Vol 03,2000)
Vol 3 2000
THE Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) has launched a high-profile Internet portal site, tdctrade.com, focusing on international trade.
Especially useful to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the site provides market information, contacts, match-making and easy access to reliable e-commerce facilities.
"Tdctrade.com will become the preferred first stop in cyberspace for anyone trading in Hong Kong, the Chinese mainland and the wider region. It will help Hong Kong manufacturers, traders and their global partners find opportunities and initiate deals in cyberspace," says TDC chairman Victor Fung.
The trade portal draws on content from the TDC, in particular a database of more than 600,000 qualified buyers and sellers -- the largest such database in Asia. Overseas companies visiting the portal have access to TDC's online databank of more than 100,000 Hong Kong suppliers and buyers. These include companies that can help overseas firms enter regional markets.
The portal has 12,000 cyber advertisers promoting products and services online. Hyperlinks to the Web sites of 6,300 Hong Kong companies are provided.
"With the new portal, SMEs will be part of a global marketplace for electronic sourcing and selling in a region where they can leverage existing advantages," says Fung.
Hong Kong SMEs will be more visible in the Internet world because TDC will market and promote tdctrade.com around the world, especially in mainland China, where Internet usage is rising rapidly.
"The portal is, above all, a service to the business community. While most Internet portals are naturally in business to make money, tdctrade.com is to help other people make money," says Fung.
TDC's ambition is to help Hong Kong replicate in cyberspace its role as a global business hub in Asia.
Developed in English and Chinese, the portal offers free services, except for a few customised features involving modest charges. Leveraging on TDC's 34 years of promoting Hong Kong trade and developing original content, the portal carries an unusual spread of trade-related information and facilities from TDC and almost 40 strategic partners.
Services offered include: an e-tendering system for bidding on SAR Government/company tenders; online credit search; e-mail alert service on upcoming trade restrictions and market opening measures; online shipping schedule search; information centre on China trade; SME information centre; global market intelligence, daily business and IT news; and specialist forums.
According to TDC deputy executive director Anna Lai, the portal is "like a fully-stocked department store with all the information and business contacts that traders, manufacturers and other business people need.
"The TDC is teaming up with other information sources to enrich content of the trade portal. Hyperlinks bridge Hong Kong companies and business associations with users of the trade portal."
The portal also has the advantage of drawing on TDC's global network of almost 50 overseas offices. "We have a global network to collect business contacts and market intelligence, and there is a strong research team to provide value-added analysis," Lai says.
Fung adds: "This is just the beginning for tdctrade.com. Over time, TDC will incorporate many additional features and services as the portal becomes Asia's full-fledged marketplace for business-to-business transactions.
"While the Internet can never fully replace the personal touch that is SMEs' hallmark in business, tdctrade.com gives companies a formidable advantage in e-commerce."
The portal and resulting trade activities blend well with Hong Kong government initiatives aimed at developing a vibrant IT industry and a strong e-commerce mentality among Hong Kong enterprises.
TIMEPIECE makers in Hong Kong should keep a close eye on the growing cyber market, says a TDC report.
The report, entitled Practical Guide to Exporting Watches and Clocks, is part of a series published by TDC. It says US timepiece retailers and dealers are rushing to set up Web pages that target online sales. In addition to big retailers, a large number of small retailers and Internet-based companies are selling timepieces online.
A wide range of products, such as fashion watches, contemporary timepiece collections and antique clocks, is offered on the cyber market. From 1998 to 1999, online sales in the US tripled to US$25bn.
"Timepiece sales in general do not involve much technical detail or bulky delivery. They are among the most saleable goods in the cyber market, comparable to books and CDs," says TDC assistant chief economist Daniel Poon.
"The real focus of Hong Kong companies is more than cyber retailing. Advancement of information technology will speed the search for timepiece suppliers on the Internet.
"Players targeting this channel have to catch up with the business-to-business trend in e-commerce."
On market and product trends, the report says US buyers want casual watches, those with electronic functions such as voice announcements of time or temperature, and fashion pieces.
In the EU, demand for stainless steel watches without electroplating is growing, partly due to restrictions on use of nickel and increasing environmental concerns.
In Germany, the UK, US and Japan, where radio stations emit time signals for time adjustment, radio-controlled watches and clocks from Hong Kong will have a niche.
Fad products, such as timepieces with tone diallers, pagers, incoming call alerts for mobile phones and even complete mobile phones, are becoming more popular, but are not expected to emerge as major products in the near future.
SIGNS of improving market conditions, especially in mainland China, were apparent as a record 17,200 visitors flocked to the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show, according to event organisers, the TDC.
Attendance rose 12.4% on last year. A survey conducted at the show indicated that the mainland's impending accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) would create more opportunities for Hong Kong jewellery manufacturers and exporters in the China market.
TDC deputy senior manager for exhibitions Anne Chick says: "This year there were 883 exhibitors from 31 countries and regions. Buyers from all parts of the world flocked to the show to source and discuss business. Positive signs of business filled the fairground."
According to Leung Sik Wah, chairman of the TDC's Jewellery Advisory Committee, 248 mainland buyers were surveyed on the mainland's jewellery market and its potential for Hong Kong jewellery manufacturers and exporters.
Major findings of the poll were: 76% of respondents believed business would increase after the mainland's accession to the WTO; 72% were optimistic about business prospects in 2000; 94% were impressed by the modern designs of Hong Kong jewellery; 95% said platinum jewellery would become more popular; and 74% said the market for men's jewellery was growing.
The next Hong Kong International Jewellery Show is scheduled for 5-8 March, 2001.
GROWTH and development of the Hong Kong Information Infrastructure Expo in the three years since it began mirror the accelerated pace of the Internet revolution in Hong Kong, TDC chairman Victor Fung says.
Speaking at the event's opening ceremony, Fung said the expanded event -- the Hong Kong Information Infrastructure Expo & Conference 2000 -- also underscored Hong Kong's rapid emergence as the "cyber hub" of the Asia-Pacific region.
The inaugural expo in 1998 featured 100 exhibitors; this year more than 200 exhibitors promoted their products or services, including network computing, smart-card technology and digital broadcasting.
Fung said the focus had changed significantly. "At the first Information Infrastructure Expo we held up a vision of the new Internet age and guessed at its likely impact. Today, we are more concerned with practical, hands-on application of the Internet in our daily lives. The future has become the present.
"Earlier TDC launched a new portal site -- tdctrade.com -- which aims to be the first stop in cyberspace for anyone doing trade in Hong Kong, the Chinese mainland and the wider region. It draws on TDC's unique content, including an online databank of more than 100,000 Hong Kong suppliers and buyers," Fung said.
At this year's expo, particular emphasis was placed on education and creativity. The IT in Education pavilion highlighted the important role information technology can play in facilitating learning.
The expo, held from 16 to 19 March at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, was organised by TDC and co-organised by the Information Technology and Broadcasting Bureau of the SAR government.
The event housed nine thematic pavilions, showcasing an array of advanced IT and telecommunications technologies, including Hong Kong's Cyberport and Science Park, Chinese Computing Laboratory, E-Government and IT Initiatives, Interactive Multimedia Zone, Telecom City, Information Gallery, E-Commerce Marketplace, and Global IT Community.
Forums and a high-level conference were held in conjunction with the expo. Stephen Liang, TDC's manager of services promotion, says: "The high-level conference was especially designed to provide insights into the immense business opportunities brought by the recent global IT development. It provided a unique platform for international corporate executives, industry leaders and senior officials to explore emerging opportunities in the new information age from a global co-operative perspective."
EXPORTS of Hong Kong timepieces and jewellery look positive amid growing confidence from international traders attending the recent World Watch, Clock and Jewellery Show in Basel, Switzerland. This year's event drew 85,000 visitors, up 6% on last year.
TDC mounted the largest Hong Kong pavilion ever to serve international traders at the fair in Basel. Many of the 124 jewellery companies and 176 timepiece exhibitors in the pavilion reported receiving more quality buyers who placed orders relatively faster.
Hong Kong Watch Manufacturers Association vice-president Stanley Lau says the business atmosphere was good, with buyers from the US, Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia actively placing orders.
"With signs of healthy growth in the US market and remarkable recovery of Southeast Asian markets, the outlook for Hong Kong exports of watches and clocks is promising. Exports to the EU and Middle East will be stable," Lau says.
According to Lau, simple designs and stainless steel watches still dominate market trends, and watches matched with coloured leather straps are fashionable.
Hong Kong Jewellery Manufacturers Association chairman Dennis Ng says Hong Kong exhibitors offering upgraded product lines encountered good results.
"Following a strong increase of 25% in 1999, Hong Kong's exports of jewellery are expected to show two-digit growth this year as the US market, accounting for nearly 50% of our jewellery exports, will continue to perform well and the EU market will remain stable," Ng says.
In terms of product trends, white gold jewellery with diamond, pearl or semiprecious stones remains popular, and jewellery with rubies or sapphires is expected to rebound.
Basel Fair director Rene Kamm said he was impressed by the attractive booth design, which helped to attract visitors into the Hong Kong pavilion.
Jacques Duchene, chairman of the exhibitors' committee and marketing director of Rolex watches, expressed pleasure at Hong Kong's protective measures on intellectual property rights.
Hong Kong ranks among the world's leading exporters of watches, clocks and jewellery. Most Hong Kong timepiece exports are produced in response to OEM and ODM orders. In addition, a growing number of Hong Kong companies actively market their own brand names.
EXPORTERS from Hong Kong intending to diversify their markets in Europe should not overlook potential in Spain, TDC assistant chief economist Daniel Poon says.
"Spain has outperformed most major European markets in economic growth, and a fall in unemployment has led to fast expansion in import demand for consumer goods," he says.
In introducing the TDC's Practical Guide to Spain for Hong Kong Traders, Poon says Spain, unlike other major European markets, has a large young population. This consumer group looks for fashionable, elegant and individualistic products at reasonable prices.
An increase in the number of young working women offers more potential. For these consumers, clothing is an important item.
The construction boom and a desire for better living environments mean rising demand for household items, health and environmentally friendly products.
As the world's second largest tourism destination, Spain also offers opportunities for gift and premium products.
The Spanish retail sector has seen an emergence of hypermarkets, retail chains and buying groups. Most can import directly from overseas suppliers, and they may carry their own private-label products.
Hong Kong suppliers can capitalise on the capability and flexibility to produce customised designs and seek opportunities in OEM and ODM business. They can also manufacture for Spanish brand companies targeting overseas markets. But exporters should be prepared to handle smaller orders with wider variety and shorter lead times.
Poon urges Hong Kong traders to pursue all available opportunities assisting Spanish companies conducting business in mainland China.
THE completion of TDC's Exhibition Services and Logistics Centre is the latest chapter in the story of TDC's commitment to strengthen Hong Kong's role as the trade fair capital of Asia.
"The new Exhibition Services and Logistics Centre is another strategic investment in Hong Kong's business infrastructure," said TDC chairman Victor Fung. "With this new facility, we can design and build bigger, better trade fairs, crucial tools in achieving TDC's export promotion mission."
Fung was speaking at a recent inauguration ceremony for the new three-storey centre located in Hong Kong's Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate. A total of 165 TDC staff members work in the 12,000-square-metre facility.
Even during the period of the inauguration, the centre was in full operation, with staff hard at work building the largest-ever Hong Kong Gifts and Houseware Fair, staged from 17 to 20 April at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC). More than 3,400 international exhibitors participated in that event.
"We are creating more employment for exhibitions-related service companies, to whom we sub-contract all stand construction," Fung said. "We also support other private contractors, who are able to rent our materials and have access to some of our most advanced equipment."
The new centre, which replaces a smaller facility in Yuen Long, supports TDC trade fairs in Hong Kong by providing more high-quality stand systems and exhibition materials.
"We can build and dismantle exhibitions faster because, with the extra space, we have been able to introduce pre-fabricated and containerised stand systems, another innovation. We have also developed more efficient and integrated solutions to the challenges of mounting ever-larger exhibitions. Faster turnaround times mean savings in venue rentals," Fung said.
Exhibitors at TDC trade fairs will have more and better choices for booths, pavilions and display aids.
Along with offering a wider range of services to customers, the new facility permits streamlined internal working procedures and flows, for example by using computerised inventory management for exhibition equipment and supplies.
With these operational advantages and more advanced equipment, TDC's Exhibition Services Department aims to establish new standards for designing and building Hong Kong trade fairs, some of which are the largest and most important of their kind in Asia, if not the world.
In 1997, completion of a landmark extension to the HKCEC more than doubled trade-fair capacity and gave all Hong Kong shows much-needed room to grow.
The new Exhibition Services and Logistics Centre is a response to increased demand related to major international trade fairs. In 1999, TDC's Exhibition Services team had 11,000 customers.
"When we broke ground for this building two years ago, we made a promise to customers. We said the expanded exhibition services facility would mean better-quality stand materials, more choice and better value," Fung said.
"Equally important, we promised to pass directly to our customers the anticipated benefits from increased efficiencies and economies of scale made possible by the HKCEC expansion, which increased the volume of our business, and by this new facility at Tseung Kwan O."
Prior to the inauguration ceremony, TDC announced revised participation fees for the next cycle of its fairs beginning in April, 2001. Even after a three-year freeze, the fees for all TDC fairs are declining, in some cases by as much as 20%.
"With these fee reductions, we hope more small- and medium-sized enterprises will sign on as exhibitors at Hong Kong fairs and fully capture the huge opportunities created by recovery of Asian markets and by [mainland] China's impending entry to the World Trade Organisation," Fung said.
"At the same time, we hope existing customers will feel the benefit of these fee reductions. In a more competitive environment, we strongly encourage them to reinvest some of these savings in larger and upgraded booths at our trade fairs to attract more buyers to their stands."
Fung said the fee reduction for TDC trade fairs was another important step towards making Hong Kong more competitive as Asia's trade fair capital and sourcing hub.
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