Expo organisers make case to Legco that competition law must cover TDC

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 February, 2012, 12:00am


Three leading exhibition organisers will take their fight against the Trade Development Council's exemption from the new competition law to the Legislative Council today.

The government announced earlier this month that the council, along with all but six of the city's 580 statutory bodies, would be exempted from the competition bill, despite the fact that it is the largest player in the exhibitions industry in the city with 45 per cent of the market.

One company said it would 'review its Hong Kong business' if the TDC was not covered by the law.

A group of exhibition organisers yesterday released a study claiming that 70 per cent of buyers and exhibitors agreed that the statutory body needed to be regulated in the same way as commercial concerns.

The organisations, who will take their case to Legco today at a public meeting with the committee that is scrutinising the competition bill, include UBM and Global Sources, two of the leading players in the city's exhibitions business, and Reed, the world's largest exhibitions organiser.

'Our company will keep an eye on the issue and take appropriate actions; we will review our businesses and commitment to Hong Kong,' Global Sources president Tommy Wong Tam-wai said yesterday, when asked what his company would do if the council was not covered by the law.

When asked whether the company, which has 14 per cent of the city's exhibitions business, would withdraw from Hong Kong, Wong said: 'It would be too early to say so.'

UBM, the second largest organiser in town, said of TDC in a letter to lawmakers: '[The TDC] is clearly engaging in economic activities and, therefore, fulfils the criteria for being subject to the competition law.'

The TDC, which owns the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai and runs events including the Book Fair and Food Expo, was excluded from the list of statutory bodies to be covered by the new law by the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau. It will instead by governed by the existing Competition Policy Advisory Group.

A bureau spokesman said the TDC would not be covered by the new law because it 'would continue to organise trade fairs/exhibitions even at a loss or during [an] economic downturn'.

The management of the Convention and Exhibition Centre had been entrusted to a third party, the spokesman said.

The long-awaited competition law, which aims to curb anti-competitive behaviour and provide a level playing field for companies, must be passed by the end of the Legco session in July or go back to the drawing board under the new administration.