Foreign investors are eyeing knowledge-based sectors such as insurance and human resource management as mainland Chinareadies for global competition, said Dave Armitage, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. 'The Chinese are as capable as anyone in the world in terms of building stuff,' Mr Armitage said. 'The bottom line is that China needs to compete on a world stage, and to do this they need to become more efficient. Anything that makes China a more effective place to do business is going to be in great demand.' Mr Armitage likened the state of the mainland economy to that of the United States in the early 1960s. At the time, US industry produced a vast array of consumer products, but its management systems were rudimentary when compared to the highly specialised structures that make up today's global corporations. To catch up with the West as WTO accession nears, mainland businesses will have to turn towards consulting services for assistance in setting up efficient business systems, said Mr Armitage who, in addition to his role with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, is also president of Comane, an IT and management consultancy with business operations in the mainland. The West has tremendous management knowledge, thanks in part to the growing number of business school graduates. He added that Canada was well positioned to provide the think-work to enable the mainland to jump into the league of advanced industrialised nations. 'They can either build it themselves, or turn to companies like mine that are happy to sell them the tools to build a proper IT infrastructure and show them how to use business systems to make their businesses more effective. For a lot of Canadian companies, this is the kind of thing we have and should sell into China.' Mr Armitage loosely defined the service industry as those consulting companies which enable businesses to boost efficiency and customer satisfaction through the application of new technology. For example, simply installing new software or computer systems is not enough to get maximum leverage of the new technology. These systems must be carefully integrated into the company's operational structure. 'Most IT implementation in Western companies fail because they either didn't plan or didn't implement it properly,' he said. Despite the strong need for these services, foreign consulting companies would have to overcome a negative bias among mainland companies that are not used to spending on fuzzy management solutions. 'They've had a hard time buying something that's intangible,' Mr Armitage said. 'But I'm convinced a lot more people in the future are going to buy intelligence.' Pacing the changing environment is a revision in the way foreign companies structure their mainland entities. Instead of joint ventures, foreign companies are opting for a new business entity known as a foreign-invested joint stock limited company. The Team Canada mission is expected to focus on telecommunications and financial services during its Hong Kong visit, two areas in which Canada is perceived to be a world leader.