Firm may pull out of AsiaWorld-Expo if Wan Chai expands

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 April, 2010, 12:00am

Global Sources, which organises the China Sourcing Fairs that anchor the AsiaWorld-Expo venue, said it would likely be forced to move its shows to the mainland if the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai was allowed to expand a third time.

A pullout would almost certainly sound the death knell for AsiaWorld-Expo.

Global Sources has been vocal in its opposition to any plans to increase the size of the Wan Chai venue, and in criticising the dual role of the Trade Development Council - as the government's trade promotion arm and as a competing trade show organiser.

'We were shown a letter of guarantee from the Hong Kong government to AsiaWorld-Expo stating that no further exhibition space would be built in Hong Kong until phase 2 of AsiaWorld-Expo was completed,' the company says in a position paper for the Legislative Council's commerce and industry panel.

'It is clear that if the third phase of the HKCEC proceeds, AsiaWorld-Expo will fail totally. We will certainly be forced to take our events elsewhere, likely to China where the government is extremely supportive of our activities.'

The apparent clash between the two venues resulted in two halls with room for 1,400 booths lying vacant at AsiaWorld-Expo during this week's China Sourcing Fair: Electronics and Components show, while the Wan Chai venue managed to fill its recently expanded atrium space during the council's Electronics Fair.

Many chambers of commerce and business associations have privately admitted they cannot support shows at AsiaWorld-Expo for fear of angering the council, industry insiders say. A comparison of the two fairs this week shows none of the groups sponsoring the Electronics Fair, including the Federation of Hong Kong Industries and the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, sponsor the Global Sources show.

In documents submitted to Legco by the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, the government said the council organised a quarter of the trade shows in 2008 and 29 per cent last year. 'There is no monopoly by TDC as perceived by some parties,' the bureau said.

Despite calls for the council to stop organising trade fairs, the government highlighted its role in helping small and medium enterprises promote their products. It said it had asked the council, which holds four trade fairs at AsiaWorld-Expo each year, to consider staging more there.

Lawmakers will discuss developments in the exhibitions sector on Tuesday.

Fair trade?

Critics oppose the Trade Development Council running trade fairs

The government says it does not have a monopoly, with the proportion of shows organised by the council last year being: 29%