A ground-breaking five-year plan to revolutionise the way manufactured goods are shipped through Hong Kong to global markets has been spelled out in a government-funded report. The 130-page study - commissioned by the Port and Maritime Board and funded by the Economic Services Bureau - said the SAR must ensure manufacturers, shippers and government departments dovetailed their operations or they would face falling behind international ports such as Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, and Singapore. Commissioned after Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's 1999 Policy Address comments on logistics, the report also said that if the SAR did not act, cities such as Shenzhen and Shanghai could overtake it. It is estimated that more than 100,000 workers are employed in Hong Kong's logistics sector, which generates up to 20 per cent of the territory's gross domestic product. Carried out by private consultants McClier, the report described the present movement of goods as piecemeal and recommended the setting up of an official freight and logistics services development unit to co-ordinate the changes. A key area identified in the report is the use of the Internet to track the progress of goods. In his 1999 address, Mr Tung described logistics as the SAR's backbone and a key component of strategic development. The first blueprint funded by the bureau listed the Pearl River Delta as both an opportunity and a threat in logistics development. It said the mainland's impending entry into the World Trade Organisation provided an opportunity for increasing trade volumes, but presented a growing threat from Shenzhen and Shanghai. The plan sets out three key targets: To create an efficient air-sea-land transport platform; Improved connections with the Pearl River Delta manufacturing hinterland, and; Small and medium-sized logistics companies to use fast-growing virtual or e-commerce markets to fast-track and control the movement of goods. The report said Chek Lap Kok airport should be central to the changes and steps should be taken to make Hong Kong the best option for the movement of urgent shipments. It highlighted the need to build specialised parks - most urgently at the airport - to house logistics companies, but gave no spending outlines. Additional parks could be considered at Tsing Yi South, Tai Ho on Lantau, and Tuen Mun West. These information technology-oriented parks would serve as central locations where last-minute or value-adding services would be housed - from final component assembly to packaging, shipment tracking and inventory monitoring. They would be linked to the Pearl River Delta by road, rail and high-speed boat. The target would be to get urgent cargo from the airport to the parks in less than 20 minutes. Customs and immigration procedures would need to be streamlined. Rail connections would require a feeder system to the West Rail to link a freight village at Pinghu, in Shenzhen, with the Kwai Chung container terminal. A Logistics Council of Hong Kong should also be set up to pull in expertise from the private sector. The entire plan could be completed by 2005, when 'Hong Kong will have the institutional, human resources and logistics structure in place' for it to become an important logistics hub, the report concluded.