Trade chief warns of Macau threat

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 November, 2007, 12:00am

Hong Kong must not lose its market-leading position as the hub for conventions and exhibitions in the face of growing competition from Macau, the new chairman of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council told the media in Beijing yesterday.

'Hong Kong must have the determination not to lose its status as leader of the pack in holding conventions and exhibitions,' said Jack So Chak-kwong, who took over a month ago.

'Conventions and exhibitions are not only important for Hong Kong's tourism but also lead to actual deals signed, and are crucial to export businesses for industries both local and mainland.'

He said Hong Kong should not lose its confidence. 'Hong Kong has its own edges. Commercial foundations, law, accounting, banking, finance and trade are some of its strengths. These will not be lost.'

The need for more space was a problem the council was already discussing with the government, he said. For many of the large exhibitions more than a third, or even half, of interested exhibitors could not secure a place. 'More space is required even for accommodating current needs,' he said. As new resort hotels enhance Macau's appeal as a choice for conventions, the government recently set up a special working group to look at the supporting facilities that could be introduced to boost Hong Kong's position.

Flanked by more than 100 Hong Kong business chiefs, Mr So was in the capital attending the 11th Beijing- Hong Kong Economic Co-operation Symposium.

He said government and business leaders from both cities discussed possible co-operation in areas including IT research and products, service outsourcing, product design and logistics.

Ahead of the Beijing Olympics, Hong Kong businesses were interested in playing a role in the capital's property market and infrastructure building.

Mr So said the council was helping small and medium-sized Hong Kong enterprises in the Pearl River Delta to explore opportunities in neighbouring provinces. Many Hong Kong factories are having to leave the delta region as governments there tighten policies on value-adding industries in an attempt to upgrade manufacturing in the region.