The future of the proposed free-trade zone at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border would be decided in the next few months, the commerce, industry and technology secretary said yesterday. John Tsang Chun-wah said the future of the 100-hectare site would be included in third-round consultations on the Hong Kong 2030 study and the public would be given more than two months to discuss the issue. Consultation results would be released within the next couple weeks, he said. Mr Tsang refused to confirm whether the government was in talks with Guangdong authorities on the matter. 'We have been studying the use of the zone for two to three years and have been in touch with different people,' he said. 'We still hold an open attitude on this issue.' The border area has been tipped to be converted into a trade and exhibition zone. The project, which was proposed in September by tycoon Li Ka-shing during a meeting with President Hu Jintao in Beijing, was originally rejected by Mr Tsang, who said Hong Kong 'should not turn the clock back to the time of plastic-flower manufacturing'. But Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa and Guangdong Governor Huang Huahua endorsed the move. Mr Tsang also said the response was 'quite good' as they had received five applications from telecoms companies to enter the mainland market under the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement. He also said the date of the sixth World Trade Organisation ministerial conference in Hong Kong still depended on the progress of trade negotiations between member states in Geneva. 'It would definitely have taken place by 2005 because the event has to be held every two years,' Ms Tsang said.