SPACE will be at a premium in the Lower and Upper Halls of the Hongkong Convention and Exhibition Centre over the next couple of days. From today until Thursday, more than 20,000 square metre of floor area will be given over to the eighth Hongkong Gifts and Houseware Fair being run in conjunction with the third Hongkong Premium Show. The bulk of the space - 16,500 sq m - will be devoted to booths from gifts and houseware exhibitors. This fair, organised by the Hongkong Trade Development Council, is a comprehensive showcase of what 23 participating countries have to offer the consumer. Hongkong is the perfect location for such a fair because, apart from a sourcing centre for international buyers, it is an important market and re-export centre for booming markets throughout Asia. The products available read like a massive, international, Christmas shopping list - in fact, Christmas decorations are included. Goods run the whole gamut - consumer electronics, stationery, watches and clocks, toys and games, electrical appliances, silverware, home textiles, decorative and craft items, kitchen and tableware, travel goods, handbags, ceramics, crystal and glassware, furniture and home furnishings, camping equipment and picnic sets, sporting goods and outdoor goods, costume jewellery and fashion accessories. In fact one doubts if anything has been left out. If it is not on display this year, look for it next time around as the show will most likely continue its annual trend of attracting more exhibitors and more booths. Last year, 331 local exhibitors set up 449 booths while 279 overseas exhibitors added 318 booths to make a total of 610 exhibitors and 767 booths. This year, 401 local exhibitors will man 508 booths and 282 overseas producers will set up 330 booths - a total of 683 exhibitors with 838 booths. This represents a 25.6 per cent increase in the number of exhibitors, and a 20 per cent increase in displays. The bulk of the exhibitors will, naturally, come from Hongkong. They make up almost 60 per cent of the total, with 401 exhibitors. The next largest group comes from Taiwan, with 146 exhibitors. Germany has 38, the United States 18, China 11, Thailand 10 and Macau eight. Other countries are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Holland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Britain. Participation from the overseas contingency is up 27 per cent, while Hongkong will post a 17 per cent increase. As a further indication of the importance of this huge market, a seminar will be held tomorrow afternoon, dealing mainly with developments and trends in the gifts and houseware industry. The free programme will be introduced by Mr Cliff Sun, chairman of the Hongkong Gifts and Houseware Fair organising committee. This will be followed by a talk by Mr Ian Gittlitz, publisher of Homeworld Business (from the US), who will speak on the houseware resurgence in the United States. Mr Yoshihiro Normura, editor of Nikkei Gifts (from Japan), will speak about trends in the Japanese gifts' market, and Ms Laura Schmidt of Porzellan and Glas (Dusseldorf) will follow up with developments, figures and trends in the German gifts and houseware market. The final speaker will be Mr Robert McCoy, editorial director of Licensing Today International (from the US) who will speak on changing trends in international licensing. The closing remarks will be made by Mr Sidney Woollett, chairman of the Hongkong Premium Show management committee. The fair has attracted an enthusiastic list of sponsors. The Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, the Chinese Manufacturer's Association, the Federation of Hongkong Industries, the Hongkong Exporter's Association, the Hongkong General Chamber of Commerce, the Indian Chamber of Commerce and the Government Industry Department have all seen fit to put their stamp of approval on this exhibition. While the fair is closed to the public - they will have to wait and see what arrives in the stores - organisers expect about 20,000 buyers to check out the offerings at the exhibition centre. Last year, 18,666 buyers poured in from 103 countries and regions for the combined fairs. Business orders worth more than $410 million were confirmed on the spot, with $462 million under negotiation.