A revamp of Hong Kong's trade offices in Europe will strengthen the city's representation in over 30 countries, officials said yesterday. A new office will be set up in Berlin at a cost of $22 million a year. The chief representative in London will be downgraded as a result and the post of deputy chief representative in London will be scrapped to create the post of head of the Berlin office. Under the plan, the head of the Brussels office will become Europe commissioner and oversee all three offices. Spelling out the plan in a paper for lawmakers, the Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau said the accession of 10 new member states to the European Union in May 2004 had brought substantial opportunities for Hong Kong. 'Many enterprises there are keen to do business with the mainland, but are hampered by lack of knowledge and experience,' the report said. 'The revised structure will strengthen Hong Kong's presence and representation in some 30 European countries.' The set-up cost of the Berlin office is estimated to be $9.5 million. Around $5 million of the annual operation cost of $22 million will be met by savings from restructuring the other two offices. The bureau warned that Hong Kong would lose out without the new office, saying the existing two offices could not adequately cover over 30 countries. 'Our competitiveness as Europe's trading partner will be adversely affected.' Up to December 2004, external direct investment in Hong Kong amounted to $3,522 billion, of which $425 billion was from EU member states. In all, 1,083 of the 3,798 foreign companies that have regional headquarters or offices in Hong Kong were from the EU.