Trade Development Council (TDC) chairman Peter Woo Kwong-ching considers trade is the key to higher employment and sustainable wealth creation in Hong Kong's economy.
'We must remember that trade is our core business. It has been our strength for many years, and has been stable and dependable,' he said.
Mr Woo expected the value of external trade in goods and services to reach HK$3 trillion this year.
Sustained trade during the recession was an indication of its underlying importance in the economy, he said.
TDC data indicated about half Hong Kong's gross domestic product (GDP) comes from trade and related activities.
Mr Woo said local companies should embrace change so as to maintain their competitive edge in the global market place.
'One thing that has been very important for Hong Kong is our ability to change, and that is to be another key element of success in the future,' he said.
Mr Woo, who took up the top TDC job on October 1, said China's accession to the World Trade Organisation would bring vast opportunities for Hong Kong businesses.
'Over the past 20 years, Hong Kong companies have gained a critical mass. But so have some of their mainland counterparts,' he said.
'This means our enterprises will have to work hard to make sure they stay two or three steps ahead.'
Despite high labour costs and property prices, the SAR remained an attractive destination for foreign investors.
'People tend to forget our uniqueness.' he said.