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Jewellery, Watch Leaders Meet on Legal Action Against Swiss Fair

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The Trade Development Council (TDC) is asking all exhibitors prevented from doing business last week at a jewellery and watch fair in Switzerland to estimate their direct losses arising from the incident.

The heads of six industry associations from the jewellery, watch and clock trades met with TDC today (Friday) to discuss ways to take legal action against the organiser of the World Jewellery & Watch Fair Basel/Zurich 2003.

Last week, more than 300 Hong Kong exhibitors were prevented from doing business at the fair after the Swiss government suddenly issued a health control decree concerning atypical pneumonia (also known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). TDC organised the Hong Kong Pavilion at the fair's Zurich venue, where it was the largest from overseas.

Direct costs for participants include participation fees, booth construction costs, additional booth facility expenses, marketing campaign expenses to promote the Hong Kong Pavilion, including expenses charged by the fair authority for advertisements in its official promotional channels; shipment expenses, insurance, travelling expenses and hotel accommodation.

Hong Kong exhibitors had either arrived or were en route to Zurich when the Swiss government decree was issued on April 1. It prevented exhibitors from employing people who had been in Hong Kong, the Chinese mainland, Singapore or Vietnam after March 1 this year.

The decree, which applied to all exhibitors, reflected Swiss Government concerns over possible transmission of AP through contact at the fair. The Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Trade, Mr Henry Tang, immediately raised objections with his Swiss counterpart and the Swiss Consul General in Hong Kong.

In Zurich, TDC argued against the measures with the fair authority, noting that Hong Kong participants were willing to subject themselves to health checks before entering the venue. However, the Swiss authorities insisted on screening procedures that meant Hong Kong participants would miss days of business at the eight-day event. After strong protest, the consensus of all the participants and the TDC was to withdraw from the exhibition.

Today's meeting also discussed future promotional strategies for the jewellery and watch industries in Europe.

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For press enquiries, please contact TDC's Corporate Communication and Marketing Department at 2584 4333.

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