SOME Hong Kong retailers in China have raised prices to counter the depreciation of the yuan following the unification of currency rates, according to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC). ''Foreign investors are tempted to adjust their prices in such a way as to protect themselves as far as possible from any fluctuation in exchange rate,'' said Mary Wong, TDC assistant executive director On the first day of unification, retailers saw frantic buying of goods such as electrical appliances, she said. But the rises could also be the traditional mark-ups ahead of the Lunar New Year, she said. Such inflation was transitional, she said, and prices would eventually stabilise. The rate unification was being seen as positive by foreign investors in China, she said. ''It can boost their confidence in investing on the mainland.'' Meanwhile, the TDC is helping Hong Kong investors in wholesale joint ventures on the mainland through legal channels, although wholesaling is in principle forbidden. Target buyers will mostly be individual entrepreneurs, with other retailers such as department stores also being looked at. Mrs Wong said: ''That will help make China's commercial sector more competitive after its re-entry into GATT [the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade], when there will be keen competition. ''A wholesaler has to create demand and monopolise the market. We need to drive home these concepts to Chinese enterprises. ''Now, across the border, they don't have much knowledge of wholesaling. They need to know more about sales networks. The presence of Hong Kong wholesalers there will expose them to the skill of promoting goods.'' It would also introduce techniques in the territory's service industry, such as advertising and packaging, to the mainland, she said. Most of China's existing state-owned wholesale centres were suffering from losses as they were given only goods which manufacturers themselves had failed to market, she said. The TDC will start its wholesale project in Panyu, where a wholesale centre will be completed in two years. It will house more than 400 wholesale shops, most for the garment business. ''It is high time Hong Kong investors positioned themselves in the China market,'' she said. Mrs Wong said the TDC would continue to organise show-case projects for joint-venture goods made by Hong Kong manufacturers. Such projects would be launched in Qingdao and Harbin, while other places such as Hefei were being considered.