Dongguan has unveiled fresh incentives to help struggling Hong Kong exporters enter new markets and upgrade their industries, a move that brings the amount of financial aid from the industrial hub to 5 billion yuan (HK$5.67 billion) since October, the city's deputy mayor said. In collaboration with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC), deputy mayor Jiang Ling said the city would provide subsidies to Hong Kong and Taiwanese exporters for participating in trade fairs, seeking new customers on the mainland and in emerging markets and developing their product brands. This round of incentives would not be the last, Mr Jiang said, adding that the city was adjusting policies to reduce lending barriers for cash-strapped producers. He said many Hong Kong factories, which use imported materials to produce and assemble relatively low-value and low-tech exports goods, were 'the largest group of victims' of the global financial crisis. 'We hope the new incentives will reduce the financial burden of Hong Kong factory owners here,' Mr Jiang said. 'We also hope, through the measures, that our exports will achieve small growth this year.' The deepening global credit crisis had reduced Dongguan's export growth to 8.9 per cent - totalling US$65.54 billion last year - from 27 per cent growth in 2007, he said. The municipal government is offering to subsidise half the expenses of Hong Kong exporters that participate in 33 selected trade fairs on the mainland, in Hong Kong and overseas this year. The subsidy is capped at 100,000 yuan per company for each mainland trade fair. For overseas shows, the limit is 300,000 yuan. The TDC will also offer HK$2,000 in cash coupons for each exhibitor as part of the trade promoter's HK$120 million fund to boost trade. Eddie Leung Wai-ho, chairman of the 1,800-member Dongguan City Association of Enterprises with Foreign Investment, estimated the new incentives would benefit about 6,000 Hong Kong companies, each of which spent HK$150,000 annually on trade exhibitions. He also welcomed Dongguan's decision to adjust policies to facilitate lending to Hong Kong companies that do not have property assets to use as collateral for loans and accounts with mainland banks. In October, the municipal government offered to guarantee up to 25 billion yuan in loans for small and medium-sized enterprises. Yet only 1.6 billion yuan in new loans to 67 companies were approved by the end of last month. Of those who qualified, Hong Kong companies accounted for 60 per cent, Mr Jiang said. He said Hong Kong factory owners would also be exempt from paying hefty land premiums for their factory sites when applying for land-use certificates, documents required for bank borrowing.He added that the association was setting up a company to act as a middleman to guarantee Hong Kong factories that borrow from mainland banks. Since October, Dongguan has launched a number of measures to help manufacturers. These include a 1 billion yuan fund for cash-strapped smaller firms, a 1 billion yuan fund to help factories move up the value chain and technology ladder, and interest payment subsidies for factory borrowings.