The Hongkong Association of Freight Forwarding Agents (Haffa) has urged the Government to assist the logistics industry by supporting the development of a multi-purpose logistics park. Association chairman Anthony Lau Siu-wing said the industry, which could not afford to pay high commercial rates, had to operate from abandoned factory buildings. 'In the longer term, logistics operators in Hong Kong will either get out of the business, form mergers or be forced to move to China,' he said, adding that under the present system, Hong Kong could not expect to compete given the existing level of efficiency and would lose out. He said Singapore had become a regional centre for logistics operations as its government had granted operators land at favourable rates. With this support, the logistics industry had flourished and had attracted many multinational gaints such as IBM, 3M Corp, Hewlett-Packard and Ford Motor Corp. Mr Lau warned that Hong Kong, which had been the natural transport and logistics hub for the mainland and Southeast Asia for many years, should not become complacent. He said the time was ripe to consider setting up a logistics park in Hong Kong. Haffa vice-chairman Bengt Sjoeberg said the association planned to ask a university to conduct a study on the idea. He hoped the Government would offer preferential rental treatment for the logistics park site, in the same way it had provided land at favourable rates to manufacturers under its industrial estates policy. Such a move would enable Hong Kong to stay at the top of the global transport logistics industry. Mr Lau said SAR logistics operators were new to the business and were yet to capitalise on the benefits of third-party logistics. He said this had to be rectified as more businesses were shifting from the United States to Asia to reduce waiting time for users in the region. Hong Kong would lose the opportunity to create a value-added service industry which would make an important contribution to the growth of its gross domestic product, Mr Lau said. The transport logistics industry could create job opportunities in this environment of high unemployment. Mr Lau said the Government should consider not only the direct benefits to the industry but also to the economy of the SAR as a whole.