Acting Secretary for Trade and Industry Tam Wing-pong yesterday said there was anecdotal evidence local traders were winning back some of the business lost earlier to regional competitors because of currency devaluations. Mr Tam said a time lag in obtaining statistics made it difficult to assess accurately the full impact of the downturn in the services and merchandise sectors. 'We are of the opinion that probably the worst is over, because we have heard that many of the areas we had lost [trade in] during the past few months have returned,' Mr Tam said. 'This is because Hong Kong can offer certainty in terms of quality and prompt delivery.' Mr Tam yesterday fleshed out policies set out in the Budget to boost the Government's trade and industry agenda. He said the Government remained committed to its laissez-faire philosophy and strategy of not attempting to 'pick winners' among companies or industries. Government measures to boost competitiveness and efficiency include: Doubling the annual depreciation allowance for commercial buildings from 2 to 4 per cent in line with the rate for industrial buildings. A 100 per cent write-off on plants and machinery for manufacturing, computer hardware and software, and systems development. A $500-million pilot Credit Guarantee Scheme providing loans on expenses incurred in exporting goods and services for small to medium-sized enterprises. The development of a science park, and analysis of the feasibility of developing a business park. Mr Tam said: 'Our traditional manufacturing is very important, but we cannot solely rely on it. We are, therefore, expanding the scope of deduction for research and development.' He said the Government's commitment to the protection of intellectual property could be seen in its recruitment of 49 more customs officers. The Intellectual Property Bureau has doubled its number of officers to 234 in the past five years. The Government believes Hong Kong's comparative trade advantage will be maintained among regional rivals because the territory offers a different mix of products.