THE new airport and the lure of doing business in China have been key aspects in attracting British firms to IBEX '93. The British pavilion comprises 28 firms - one of the largest British groups to attend a major exhibition this year, according to David Smith, the head of the British Trade Commission. ''The new airport and associated projects have attracted an increased interest in this market,'' said Mr Smith. ''Hongkong is the busiest market in the area, and it is also the perceived gateway into China,'' he said. ''British companies have always had an interest in the area, and a lot of the companies taking part in IBEX are repeaters, coming out here for the third and fourth time.'' National pavilions are a major feature of IBEX. Eight countries have taken about 3,000 square metres this year, representing one third of the total exhibition space. The nations, all regular exhibitors at IBEX, are Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Singapore, Spain, Britain and the United States. They will be represented by 181 companies. The British pavilion is sponsored by the British Department of Trade and Industry. Products on display include manhole and access covers from Selflock, glass lamination products which will be demonstrated by Contract Developments, and architectural window hardware from Securistyle. Spanish companies are also regular exhibitors at IBEX. ''Hongkong is where the action is,'' said Cecilia Sell, market analyst with the Spanish Trade Commission. ''It is a very big market for us, especially with the booming economy in China and in Hongkong. ''Spain is in the forefront of the ceramic tiles market, and companies who have taken part in IBEX previously have been very successful. ''Spain is now the largest exporter of ceramic floor and wall tiles to Hongkong.'' The Spanish pavilion includes 23 companies, most of whom are exhibiting various colours and styles of ceramic tiles. The Australian pavilion will have 28 companies at IBEX '93, including a contingent of five from Western Australia. ''Participation in IBEX provides product exposure,'' said Bill Mahon, the Australian Trade Commissioner in Hongkong. ''Some companies are here for the first time seeking to break into the market, while others are selling regularly to Hongkong and China. ''The fair provides access to a lot of buyers, which is why Austrade sponsors an Australian pavilion.''