TDC cuts tariffs to aid small players

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 April, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 April, 2000, 12:00am

The Trade Development Council (TDC) will next year slash participation fees for its trade fairs by up to 20 per cent in a bid to lure more local exhibitors.

Those taking part in the TDC's next year-long season - starting on April 1 next year - will enjoy a discount ranging from 3 to 20 per cent, depending on the size and duration of the shows.

TDC director Lee Chi-sang said exhibitors at the annual book exhibition would be offered a 3 per cent discount, while those at the food expo would get 20 per cent.

'The move is with the aim to encourage [small and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs] to use trade fairs as a cost-effective marketing strategy,' Mr Lee said.

'With China's impending entry to the World Trade Organisation, we expect more American and European importers to visit trade shows in Hong Kong.' Mr Lee said the discounts were not being implemented in response to criticism by some companies the TDC had taken advantage of its monopoly status and was overcharging them.

In May, exhibitors at a watch and jewellery fair held in Switzerland said the TDC had charged high fees.

'I appreciate different companies have different views,' Mr Lee said.

'But we are constantly reviewing the fees we charge, to make sure companies are getting value for money.

'Besides, we have frozen all the participation fees for three years since 1997. And last year, we introduced economy booths specially designed for SMEs to help cut down their costs.' Mr Lee said the TDC would take the initiative to lower fees for overseas events.

The TDC expected the reduction in charges to result in a 10 per cent decrease in its fee income, which stood at about HK$500 million last year.

'But we are confident the drop will be offset by an increase in trade-fair participants,' Mr Lee said.

In the last trade-fair season the number of firms taking part rose 16 per cent to 11,260.

The TDC forecast the number of exhibitors would increase 8 per cent this year.

Mr Lee said the fee cut would also be offset by the costs TDC would save with its exhibition services centre in Yuen Long moving to a more spacious site in Tseung Kwan O.

The new centre will begin operations on Tuesday.