HONG KONG'S commercial history has been turbulent, colourful and successful. Its future is unlikely to be any different. Business Post, taking advantage of the new technology at the Morning Post Centre, will continue its tradition of evolving with its exciting markets. Like Hong Kong's economy and business community, the Business Post has grown out of all recognition from the early columns. When commerce first gained space in the Post, before World War ll, readers had a small list of major stock price changes, a paragraph commentary on the previous day's action in the market, and a slightly longer list of prices from London and New York. Even in the mid-1950s, as Hong Kong began to flex its financial muscle, it was the shipping news which dominated the pages. Not surprisingly: as the best deep-water harbour in the region, shipping was vital. It still is but, today, it has been joined by a wide range of other commercial activities which have made the territory an unrivalled business centre. Reflecting the demand for more authoritative information, in February 1969 Post readers were given a separate section - then called Business News. The first edition led with the Economic Correspondent's commentary on the budget, an increase in British interest rates, record profits for Hang Seng Bank and a 10 cent jump in the gold price. It was in June 1986 that Business Post first appeared. Sixteen months later, it was deep into reports on the Hong Kong financial market's darkest hour: the closure of the stock exchange following the Wall Street crash. Hong Kong survived that scandal - which led to the imprisonment of the exchange chairman Ronald Li - and continued to flourish and expand. Business Post followed. The growing demand for local, China, regional and international business, economic and stock market news meant more expansion and, in February last year, the Business Post expanded further, becoming two sections. The increased emphasis on China and regional news and market reports reflected Hong Kong's role as a financial hub, whose banks, brokers, corporations and traders did business from Colombo to Korea, and Singapore to Sichuan. No other daily newspaper in the region, and few in the world, devote so many column centimetres and pages to finance and business (although Singapore does have its own separately-priced financial daily). The Post has plans stretching into the next century to strengthen its position as Hong Kong's leading publisher of business news. The introduction of the state-of-the-art printing facilities at the Morning Post Centre will be matched by stronger editorial coverage and production standards. These changes will ensure that Business Post retains its role as a 'must-read' for the territory's business community. The improvements will also allow the paper to keep pace with the changes that are taking place within the global business environment. A further expansion of our coverage of Chinese business news will be a focus for particular attention in the run up to and beyond the 1997 handover. In addition to stronger daily news coverage on China, the paper will deliver more analysis of business and economic developments from correspondents in leading mainland cities and writers based in Hong Kong. Hong Kong's position as one of the world's biggest securities, foreign exchange and debt markets will be reflected through the coverage of these areas. The Post is well abreast of the changes in information technology which are sweeping the world. Soon, the printed word will be complemented by electronic data. The daily news will be backed up by the provision of business information and stock market information via interactive voice systems and on-line services. An extensive clippings service, tailored to subscribers' needs, will give them access to the Post's invaluable files, providing a unique service. This expansion into the electronic world will not slow down the development of the traditional Business Post. It will remain the key source of news on results, deals, regulation and trade. Its bureaus in Beijing and Shanghai will keep readers abreast of the changes in what will be the world's largest economy. As Hong Kong's role as a regional business centre expands, the Business Post will respond by broadening its news gathering network through correspondents and wire services. Singapore is not just Hong Kong's competitor: it is at the centre of a region which provides massive opportunities for the territory - opportunities which go beyond any mere reaction to Hong Kong's integration into China. From there, new an deeper coverage will be added. As barriers fall and trade explodes around the Pacific, Hong Kong will be at the centre, with China to the north, and Southeast Asia to the south. The emerging economies of Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia and Laos will offer more opportunities and the Business Post will be the leading window on this exciting world. Ray Heath is the former Business Post editor.