The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is organising the Export Marketing category of the Hong Kong Awards for Services. Alan Wong, assistant executive director of the export services department, said the awards would focus attention on the territory's export service sector and recognise the strengths and achievements of its export service industries. He said they would help give a clearer understanding of Hong Kong export services and give public recognition to those companies which were achieving excellence in marketing their export services. Mr Wong said Hong Kong's international financial expertise, communication skills, construction, the ability to finance and develop infrastructure, transportation, industry professionals and experts played a key role in maintaining its reputation as an international business, financial and service centre. There are more than 9,000 professional firms in Hong Kong, employing about 73,500 people. Mr Wong said the HKTDC would use the services of an outside consultant to help its judging panel examine each entry to select five nominees to go forward to the central judging panel, which would then choose an overall winner in the export marketing category. He said the HKTDC judging panel could award certificates of merit to other companies in the category. 'The criteria will be tough but I believe every company that takes part will benefit from the experience of the evaluation,' he said. Entries would be judged on the markets the individual companies were serving, promotional strategies, sales performance, how they developed marketing management, motivation, training and evaluation of staff. 'We will be looking at the whole package of what it takes to be successful in the export marketing of services,' Mr Wong said. As a part of its expanded efforts to promote Hong Kong's service industries, the HKTDC established the Export Services Department in 1996 to help develop new markets and export services. The HKTDC has put together a programme of activities, including exhibitions, missions and conferences, designed to raise the profile of Hong Kong service industries in key overseas markets and create business opportunities. 'Hong Kong has a wealth of high-standard expertise that covers a wide range of professions which can be expanded and exported overseas,' Mr Wong said. 'We undertook various studies and identified four major areas where we believed Hong Kong has a leading edge that can be promoted and developed overseas,' he said. The four priority areas are financial services,trade-related services, telecommunications and media and communications.