Uncertainty surrounding the handover has hindered Hong Kong from joining the International Apparel Federation (IAF), its treasurer, A.J.W. Lewis, says. Speaking ahead of the two-day IAF World Apparel Convention, which begins on Monday, Mr Lewis said Hong Kong textile associations were interested in joining the federation but would decide after the handover. The federation is a global organisation of apparel and textile industries. China is not a member because the federation does not accept state-owned trade associations. Mr Lewis said this rule had been amended to allow Chinese firms to join. The China National Textile Council, for example, is interested in joining, and is already talking to the federation. Mr Lewis encouraged small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries to establish global connections through international organisations. 'Given the trend of global trade, SMEs in developing countries can take advantage of being a member of international trade organisations to meet large companies in developed countries and start a partnership,' he said.