A proposed second exhibition centre could help Hong Kong regain competitiveness in trade shows and business, according to exhibition organiser Info Communication Holdings. The company, which is seeking a listing on the Growth Enterprise Market, said that Hong Kong had lost competitiveness in comparison with mainland cities such as Guangzhou and Dongguan for some trade shows, because high costs had eaten into the profit margins of organisers and exhibitors. 'In recent years, new exhibition facilities have been springing up in many major mainland cities,' said chairman Leung Tin-fu, who is also the treasurer of the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Organisers and Suppliers Association. He said lower costs on the mainland had lured some organisers across the border, particularly for exhibitions targeting manufacturers in the Pearl River Delta. 'Profit margins of our Hong Kong shows have been falling year after year, while profitability of shows on the mainland has been going up,' Mr Leung said. The company derives about half of its profit from mainland exhibitions and the other half from Hong Kong. It mainly organises shows featuring manufacturing equipment for the plastic, packaging, machine tool, shoes and leather goods manufacturing industries. 'It is well documented that the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre is the most expensive exhibition facility in the world, but of course it has world-class standards,' Mr Leung said. He said the Government's plan to invest up to HK$2 billion on a HK$4 billion second exhibition centre near the airport by 2005 would bolster Hong Kong's competitiveness as a trade-show centre. The plan was unveiled by Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa in his policy address last week. It promises to create about 5,000 jobs and HK$18 billion of economic benefits in its first decade of operation. 'Although the overall occupancy rate of the current centre in Wan Chai may seem low, it is actually insufficient to accommodate demand at peak periods,' Info Communication chief executive Cheng Chun-ho said. 'The proposed second centre will give exhibitors an alternative.' Set up in 1985, the company organised its first trade show in 1989 when the Wan Chai centre was completed. Mr Leung said it had been profitable since its establishment, and had recorded double-digit percentage turnover growth in the past few years. It sourced between 70 and 80 per cent of total revenues from organising exhibitions and the remainder from publishing trade directories and designing and printing trade show brochures.