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Hong Kong rising as high-tech marketplace – TDC Chairman

Hong Kong is emerging as a technology marketplace for China and the region, according to Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) Chairman Mr Peter Woo.

In the Council's 2005/06 Annual Report, tabled at the Legislative Council today (July 5), Mr Woo said China's increasing need for higher technology had created demand for a sophisticated marketplace to handle technology sourcing and trading.

"The Hong Kong platform is the natural choice for such a marketplace," Mr Woo said.

He said Hong Kong had what it took - global networks, intellectual property safeguards and marketing experience.

"The mainland is upgrading its technology to enhance competitiveness. Demand for higher technology is especially strong in the manufacturing sector, partly because of the need to comply with environmental codes in major overseas markets," Mr Woo said.

"Many international companies with advanced technologies are keen to make inroads into the mainland market. Hong Kong is ideally placed to help them."

He added that Hong Kong could assist mainland technology firms to break into global markets by commercialising their technologies and boosting their overseas marketing.

Mr Woo also advocated a new alliance between Hong Kong and Shenzhen for the development of technology.

"We have moved from a manufacturing alliance started 25 years ago to what we can call a 'Silicon Delta' alliance between Hong Kong and Shenzhen," Mr Woo said.

"Over the next 25 years we should complement each other in attracting talent, enterprises and venture capital to this part of the region. We should also increase research and development co-operation between our universities.

"There is huge partnership potential between the two cities over the next 25 years," Mr Woo said.

"We trust this alliance will positively influence our joint aim to clean up the environment in the Pearl River Delta over time."

TDC signed a memorandum with the Shenzhen Municipal Government last month (June) jointly to promote the development of high-tech.

Elsewhere in his Annual Report message, Mr Woo addressed concerns that Hong Kong might somehow be eclipsed or marginalised.

"Our platform is one of a kind and cannot be recreated elsewhere," he said.

" If we keep moving up the value chain, if we are proactive about changes in global business and the mainland economy, we have everything to gain and nothing to fear."

However, Mr Woo cautioned that the window for Hong Kong companies taking advantage of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) is limited as international competitors are lining up for China's further opening up under its World Trade Organisation commitments. "We need to act fast," he urged.

Mr Woo emphasised that Hong Kong must continue building critical mass in its marketplace. This was pivotal to maintain Hong Kong's edge as Asia's premier sourcing platform, he said.

The Council had again taken a lead with its latest proposal to expand the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (CEC).

After securing all necessary approvals, construction work on the expansion project would start soon, Mr Woo noted. On completion by early 2009, the expanded CEC would have 40% more exhibition space. This would allow at least five mega TDC trade fairs to become number one in the world for their industries.

Mr Woo said that expanding the physical size of trade fairs was only part of the equation. The prime attraction for international buyers was the quality and appeal of products on display. That is why the Council went to great lengths to emphasise high-end products and brands at TDC's trade fairs.

On governance issues, Mr Woo noted that TDC was an open, transparent and fully accountable public organisation. Guiding principles and internal guidelines set down for the Executive had been instrumental in ensuring TDC performed in a way that fulfilled its mandate and brought credit to Hong Kong. The Council had also developed a set of published performance measurements against which its effectiveness could be evaluated.

Executive Director Fred Lam said 2005/06 was about delivering more - while costing Hong Kong even less - and continuing to improve TDC as an organisation.

Mr Lam highlighted the following outcomes:

  • Highest number ever (20,000) of Hong Kong companies participating in TDC promotional activities around the world.

  • Highest number ever (114,400) of overseas and mainland companies coming to Hong Kong to do business as a direct result of TDC's efforts.

  • Lowest ratio ever (31.8%) of administrative to operational costs.

He said the Council had reached a record level of financial self-sufficiency despite a further decline of $20 million in subvention from the Government in 2005/06. TDC generated HK$85 of every HK$100 spent promoting Hong Kong's trade during the year through providing value-adding services for which customers were willing to pay.

The Council's total revenue went up HK$98 million to HK$1,764 million, while expenditure was HK$1,643 million, up HK$46 million over 2004/05. It recorded a surplus of HK$121 million, which Mr Lam said would enable TDC to invest more in trade promotion.

Website: http://www.tdctrade.com/annualreport2006/

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For press enquiries, please contact Lawrence Yau of TDC's Corporate Communication at 2584 4510.

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