AFTER seeing Hongkong Bank and Standard Chartered Bank blazing the trail on imported labour from China, other banks in the territory have decided to join the scheme to ease their labour shortage problem. Hongkong Bank and Standard Chartered last year pioneered the industry's interface with China's big pool of labour by applying for 350 and 50 teller positions respectively in the government-co-ordinated imported labour scheme. This year, other banks including Bank of East Asia, Citibank, Dao Heng Bank and Dah Sing Bank also joined the queue in getting imported labour from China. The Education and Manpower Branch has approved 700 workers for the banking and finance sector this year, but no further breakdown was available. The 67-branch Bank of East Asia, with 600 tellers, filed an application for 75 people to fill in positions of tellers and back-office clerks and was approved. ''Previously, the bank was a bit wary of the potential problems in hiring people from China, such as how to integrate them with the local staff and their service mentality,'' said a source close to the bank. With a turnover rate of 17 per cent and an acute shortage of clerks, the bank learned of the success of Hongkong Bank and Standard Chartered and decided to go for a trial run. Citibank, a US-based foreign institution with the largest retail network, tested the water also by securing 60 imported staff to fill 10 positions in customer service and 50 in back-office clerical posts. Running a force of 1,000 tellers and clerical staff, the bank believed that imported labour offered a solution to ease the tense labour supply in the service industries. ''Banks with a large set-up in China are in a better position to understand the ability of mainland Chinese, a plus in the ultimate integration into the local workforce,'' a spokesman for Citibank said. He said the bank had drawn reference from the experiences of Hongkong Bank and Standard Chartered before deciding on the move.