HONG KONG is the Asian trade fair and exhibition capital, attracting leading businesses from around the world, according to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC). As a growing share of world trade shifts from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the territory has strengthened its image as a regional centre for business. ''With local manufacturers, traders and overseas buyers gathered under one roof, exhibitions are a direct means of making new business contacts, gaining market knowledge and creating sales,'' TDC deputy senior manager of exhibitions Patrick Wong said. To ensure that consumers across the world associate Hong Kong products with quality, value and design excellence, the TDC has established a programme of international trade fairs and public exhibitions. One such exhibition is the 13th Hong Kong Watch and Clock Fair next month - the largest of its kind in the world. The fair is between September 9-13 and will feature watches, clocks, accessories and components, checking and measuring instruments, machines, and after-sales equipment. ''Unlike trade shows in Europe or the United States, which tend to attract only businesses from those regions, Hong Kong shows have a wide reach. A fair in Frankfurt will tend to have European buyers and low attendance by Asian and Americans,'' Mr Wong said. ''In Hong Kong, exhibitors from Southeast Asia, Europe and US have the opportunity to meet.'' For traders in Asia, Hong Kong was a place to source a wider international market, he said. Last year, the Government approved funding for an extension to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, which will more than double the size of the existing facility when it opens in 1997. ''When the TDC was set up in the early 1960s, its main purpose was to get local companies to participate in the top major international trade fairs overseas,'' Mr Wong said. ''By the 1980s, the exhibition business began to surface in Hong Kong.'' The territory provided a strong manufacturing base for consumer products. ''Visitors prefer to travel to Hong Kong rather than elsewhere in the region because, as well as being the largest manufacturer and exporter in certain product categories such as toys and garments, it is important as a re-export centre,'' he said. Each fair builds on its previous success; more buyers lead to more exhibitors, allowing them to compare quality and price with many manufacturers at the same venue. The worldwide economic situation had also influenced Hong Kong's continuing success. ''The Asian market is enjoying a boom and attracting the attention of European and American companies which were previously reluctant to come to the Far East,'' Mr Wong said. Geographically, there is the advantage of access to China through Hong Kong. as a gateway. ''It will take a long time for the exhibition business to develop on the mainland. Now, only key cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, have the infrastructure to accommodate exhibitions,'' he said. The TDC appoints official carriers, agents and hotels for expos. It plans to expand its participation in China through extending its expertise.