A key economic official said yesterday the government was keen to use the booming regional logistics industry to help pare Hong Kong's record unemployment. Speaking at Tiaca's bi-annual air cargo forum, the secretary for economic development and labour, Stephen Ip Shu-kwan, said the government would invest in hard and soft infrastructure to secure Hong Kong's trade-hub status and create more jobs in the logistics sector and its spin-off industries. 'We fully realise the importance and potential of the logistics sector in creating jobs and alleviating the unemployment problem in Hong Kong,' Mr Ip said. 'Our latest transport and logistics figures show the transport logistics and warehousing segments provide jobs to nearly 100,000 people in Hong Kong.' Mr Ip, head of the Hong Kong Logistics Council, said boosting Hong Kong's logistics capabilities was essential to securing existing industry-related jobs and creating new openings for the jobless. 'We are exploring the case for building value-added logistics parks and studying the feasibility of developing a Digital Trade Transport Network [DTTN] . . . If these projects are found to be worth pursuing, jobs will be created in the construction stages,' he said. 'But more importantly, the new facilities will offer value-added logistics services by employing semi-skilled or even low-skilled workers.' There has also been industry interest, particularly from third-party logistics providers, in the government's off-airport logistics park proposed for the Tung Chung area. But forwarders are hesitant to commit to the project until the Airport Authority reveals more about the supporting infrastructure. For instance, if the government committed to the suggested HK$15 billion bridge linking Lantau with Zhuhai and Macau, that would make the park more attractive. 'A new bridge is one of the things which would change the weight of the Tung Chung proposal,' the chief executive of a leading forwarding company said. 'Also, how will Tung Chung be connected to the seaport? We need to know how and when the peripheral infrastructure would be put in place.'