Tradelink Electronic Commerce opened its first service centre on the sixth floor of the Trade Department Tower at Mongkok on Friday to provide garment and textile traders a halfway house in the transition from paper to electronic commerce. Businessmen whose shipping operations are not yet computerised can take their quota licence applications and related documents to the centre, where the data will be converted into electronic messages for submission to the Government. Tradelink chief executive Justin Yue said: 'We want to help make the switch from paper as smooth and painless as possible for companies affected by the migration programme.' He said as the centre was only a halfway house until the industry became fully electronic, Tradelink would be pleased when it had outlived its transitional purpose. Hong Kong's 680 largest textile traders are obliged to submit their licence applications to the Government from now onwards under a phased migration programme to electronic commerce. A further three migration phases will be implemented, during which all users of quota licences will move to electronic commerce. Tradelink's service centre will not charge for its services during the phased migration period this year. The Trade Department will close its counters for receiving paper applications permanently on December 31 this year. Tradelink's service centre will enable companies who are unable to computerise their operations by the year-end deadline to meet the Trade Department's requirements.