The creation of the HK$3 billion digital trade transport network (DTTN) took a huge step forward yesterday with the industry and the government endorsing a comprehensive study on the portal's formation. The HK$5 million study by Accenture calls for a DTTN through which the full spectrum of companies - from transport service providers to financial institutions and the government - can manage trade documents and processes online. The Hong Kong Logistics Development Council, a public- and private-sector body chaired by Secretary for Economic Development and Labour Stephen Ip Shu-kwan endorsed the report, which says HK$3 billion will be needed to develop and operate the DTTN in the next 17 years. During that period, it predicts Hong Kong will reap HK$11.8 billion in tangible benefits brought by driving efficiency into the local supply chain, and all its regulatory requirements. 'It's more than a fair return,' said John Hammond, head of the council's e-logistics team. 'The quality of the report is extremely good, good enough to take to Logscouncil and get a quick endorsement. 'The next step is to get private-sector comment on how fast we can get this model of a DTTN in place. 'If we can use existing infrastructure, we will. We don't want to be competing with or repeating any of the products or services already in place. 'The report tells us what the market says they need.' The quantitative reward of an efficient logistics industry was outlined in a recent report by US investment bank Morgan Stanley, which put annual spending on logistics in China, whose raw network is as yet highly inefficient, at US$200 billion, or 20 per cent of gross domestic product. That is proportionately twice what technologically advanced countries such as the US spend. The American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai calculated that logistics, or getting the goods to market, makes up at least 16 per cent of overall product costs in China, compared with less than 4 per cent in more developed economies. It is these types of comparisons which lead many local executives to believe that an effective DTTN will become the SAR's competitive advantage, and the best way to secure its status as the region's premier logistics hub. The report envisages an e-hub in which the regulatory services of a company such as Tradelink and the trade management services of OnePort, Hactl or the shipping lines can be offered side-by-side with financial institutions and government information bureaus such as Census and Statistics. It is essentially an information exchange platform which sends and receives a multitude of electronic messages and translates into languages the recipients' systems understand, no matter how advanced or basic.