'This prestigious international mega-event [ITU Telecom World 2006] bears special significance for us. It is one of the largest trade shows ever held in Hong Kong. It brings not only tremendous economic benefit to Hong Kong and Mainland China, but also new business opportunities.' Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, December 3 LET'S PUT THE International Telecommunications Union into perspective. It is not an industry organisation. It is a Geneva-based regulators' talk shop that adds a telecoms trade show to its big triennial talk session. The talk shop has been held in Geneva every year since 1971 but the last one in 2003 was a bit damp. Attendance was well down. They blamed it on the collapse of the Internet bubble in 2000. This may have been a reason but may also have been a convenient excuse. The fact is that big telecommunications companies have found ITU Telecom World to be increasingly less of a draw for them. They now have other shows better geared to selling their wares. Thus the ITU decided to stimulate things by taking its big event out of Geneva. We won the bidding with a pledge to spend HK$100 million on staging it and we now obviously have a great deal of hullabaloo about how it proves that Hong Kong is a world city. It seems to have worked for the ITU. Companies that shunned the 2003 event have showed up this time, clearly drawn by the appeal of the mainland market and Hong Kong's proximity to it. But note that this has not impressed the ITU as much as we might think. The next Telecom World goes right back to Geneva. We on our part have also lowered our sights for what we will get from it. Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen originally billed it as an event that would draw 100,000 visitors and generate HK$1.2 billion of direct economic benefit to us. These estimates have now been reduced to 60,000 visitors and HK$900 million. You may also wish to note that these estimates imply spending of HK$15,000 per visitor. Our tourism statistics say that the average for visitors to Hong Kong is less than HK$5,000. Perhaps we once again have a little government jiggery-pokery in what 'direct economic benefit' means. But it is probably true that the ITU visitors will spend more. Our hotels have jacked up their room rates for the event. It figures. The public purse pays out HK$100 million and our hoteliers collect. You know the game - heads I win, tails you lose. In case you wonder, dear fellow taxpayer, you represent the tails. And as to what will be talked up by the regulators at this event, I haven't heard much other than that they wish to extend their tentacles to the Internet, too. This would certainly be in line with Beijing's thinking on such matters. Meanwhile, a telecommunications trade show we could have had, the 3GSM World Congress Asia, which will draw about 50,000 attendees, will instead go to Macau this year. Our bureaucrats were not interested although they were not asked to contribute a cent. SOMETIMES THERE IS a disconnect between me and our graphics department when I send in data for a chart. If you were confused by one of the charts in yesterday's column, well, that disconnect unfortunately surfaced again. What happened was that Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen made a point at the Trade Development Council's 40th anniversary reception last week of congratulating the TDC on its success in stimulating Hong Kong domestic exports to Eastern Europe. These exports to Eastern Europe are so insignificant that he did as much to embarrass himself and the TDC by even making mention of them. However, my published chart demonstrating this displayed two different scales for total domestic exports and exports to Eastern Europe, which obscured the point. Thus today I feature that chart again, done this time the way I intended it. The red line on the top represents total domestic exports and the blue line crawling along the bottom shows you exports to Eastern Europe. As you can see, they are so negligible that you wouldn't think them worth mentioning except that the TDC must do something to justify its existence and finds the fishing for that something increasingly difficult. Our graphics artists do the final composition of my charts to ensure uniformity of style across the newspaper. They do a sterling job of it but every now and then something falls between the cracks.