Hong Kong International Medical Devices and Supplies Fair/ Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair/Hong Kong Optical Fair The worldwide increase in demand for medical devices and supplies is one of the reasons the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is holding the inaugural Hong Kong International Medical Devices and Supplies Fair. 'With the increase in demand for medical devices and supplies, especially in Asia, we decided to create this fair to meet the demands of local and overseas companies,' said Raymond Yip, HKTDC's assistant executive director. The fair starts today at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, in Wan Chai, and finishes on Friday. More than 150 exhibitors from 12 countries and regions are expected to attend. Apart from local exhibitors, the mainland has the second-largest number, more than 40. The Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair and Hong Kong Optical Fair will take place at the same time. With the central government having introduced a 850 billion yuan (HK$966 billion) medical care reform plan in April this year, the organiser also hopes to serve as a stepping stone for international traders to seize valuable business opportunities in the fast-growing market. According to exhibitors, this exhibition is one of the few that includes all types of medical products, from Chinese medicine devices to dental equipment and supplies. Ben Chung, group manager of health care business of 3M Hong Kong, said: 'It is probably our first time to participate in such a medical fair, where traders can find all sorts of medical related devices and supplies. Past medical fairs we have participated in usually specialise in one area, such as solely dental.' The organiser is optimistic that the product mix will attract a great deal of attention. Although the fair includes a variety of medical related items, it will be split into different zones to give visitors a clear idea of what to look for. The zones include Tech Exchange, Building Technology and Hospital Furniture, Household Medical Products, Medical Devices, Medical Supplies and Disposables, and Trade Services and Publications. The fair will host the 14th meeting of the Asian Harmonisation Working Party. The organisation is looking at ways to unify the region's regulations regarding medical devices, and hundreds of government officials and representatives of regulatory authorities from the working party's member economies will be taking part. The organisation will hold daily meetings and workshops. Some attendees doubt that pre-promotion will be sufficient. Frank Chan, managing director of Bodycare, said: 'It is hard for people to take time off work during weekdays to attend the fair so we predict that the number of visitors may not be as high as we had hoped for.' Another underlying problem is that Hong Kong does not have any factories and most exhibitors at the fair are distributors. 'With other medical fairs around the world at the same time, traders may choose to go elsewhere as Hong Kong doesn't directly promote local manufacturers and most exhibitors at the fair are just distributors,' said Chan. 'When visitors buy a product at the Hong Kong International Medical Devices and Supplies Fair, it is bound to be more expensive than at the fairs which include manufacturers as exhibitors.' Exhibitors at the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair are more optimistic. 'We decided to join the fair due to the high quality of exhibitors and visitors that it attracts,' Florence Luk, assistant public relations and marketing manager of Jebsen Fine Wines, said. 'And we also believe that the fair will be a success due to the professionalism of the organisers.' There will be more than 520 exhibitors from 34 countries and regions, including Argentina, Australia, the mainland, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Moldova, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia, South Africa, Thailand, Uruguay and the United States. This figure has doubled from last year which led the organiser to believe that it 'reflects the productive trading' of the first such fair last year. The debut fair was called the Hong Kong Wine Fair but changed to the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair this year to follow the practice of wine fairs in London and France, and to expand the product category so buyers can source a greater variety of products at the fair's one-stop platform. Exhibitors claim that Hong Kong is a suitable place to hold a wine exhibition because the wine market in the city is more mature than in other Asian places, particularly the mainland. A spokesman for exhibitor Summergate said: 'Hong Kong people's wine knowledge is more mature than mainlanders as there is a longer history of wine having been imported to the city. 'So the wines they choose may not be the most expensive but will be high quality unlike the mainlanders who may buy the most expensive wine, thinking that it's the best because of the price.' The spokesman said that there were more people in the city drinking higher quality wines due to the removal of tax, making prices more affordable. Global auction house Sotheby's sold HK$14.3 million of wine in Hong Kong this year, outstripping sales in New York (HK$10.5 million) and London (HK$8 million). Visitors interested in the fair can log on to the iPhone Info Site at the HKTDC where users can get a free admission badge after downloading the application from iPhone App Store. All information regarding HKTDC exhibition, including event schedule and list of exhibitors can be also be found there.