11 Oct 2000
Speech for Chairman Peter Woo
Mr Wong, Dr Ensslin, ladies and gentlemen;
1. Introduction: a special day
I am delighted to welcome you all, especially those who have joined us from across the region and around the world.
Today and for the next three days Hong Kong is virtually the world's centre for sourcing consumer electronics, components and lighting products. These three concurrent fairs are the largest and most important events of their kind in Asia, where most of the world's electronics goods are made.
These fairs are also excellent examples of partnership -- between the Trade Development Council (TDC) and Hong Kong's electronics industry, and between TDC and Messe Munich International, one of the world's leading trade fair organisers. We greatly value these important relationships.
Today's opening ceremony is a special occasion because we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong Electronic Fair. This also happens to be my first official function since becoming TDC Chairman.
II. TDC - helping SMEs
But I am very excited about working with TDC, an organisation that is fully dedicated to serving Hong Kong's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In strengthening these companies we help Hong Kong's overall competitiveness and growth. For SMEs are the backbone of this economy. They are what makes Hong Kong special in world trade.
I believe that SMEs' success is Hong Kong's success. Our SMEs are Hong Kong's champions in world markets. TDC helps them identify and capture new opportunities. Right now, these are unprecedented, especially with China's imminent entry to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). For many years Hong Kong companies have manufactured on the mainland to sell to the world, taking advantage of the mainland's competitive advantages as a production base. With China's WTO entry they are able, for the first time, to develop the mainland as a domestic market for their products - one of continental scale and promise.
III. Electronics - largest export earner
Along with successful local multinationals, SMEs have made the electronics industry Hong Kong's largest merchandise export earner.
Our electronics exporters are strong because they leverage Hong Kong's full set of competitive advantages. We are well known for efficient production in the Chinese mainland, a world-class service sector and for being the world's busiest international air-cargo hub for getting time-sensitive products to the market.
Local companies are among leading OEM and ODM suppliers for the world's top brands. They are also succeeding with brands of their own, driven by innovation, product development and the ability to respond promptly to market demand. Hong Kong's electronics industry is riding the wave of prosperity and growth in our major markets. There is every indication this positive sentiment will continue - and boost orders at this fair.
Meanwhile, economic recovery is making itself felt in markets across Asia, including Hong Kong. GDP growth of 8.5 per cent is forecast for Hong Kong this year after a painful recession. Well, the new age is here. The Internet and e-commerce are rapidly transforming the way we do business, as we see from the 700,000 "hits" we have every day on TDC's Internet portal tdctrade.com.
IV. TDC's commitment to trade fairs
The Hong Kong Electronics Fair is among 16 Hong Kong industry shows pioneered by TDC in partnership with local trade associations. I would like to express particular thanks to the members of TDC's Electronics Advisory Committee for their contribution over the years to the success of this fair and for articulating so clearly the needs of our stakeholders in that industry.
The reason we organise fairs is simple. They are the single most effective market place for buyers and sellers. They also increase Hong Kong's attractions as an international marketplace for ideas and market intelligence, and not just for products.
The fact this particular fair has been going 20 years - through different economic cycles -- speaks loudly for the Council's commitment. The key, of course, is constantly to improve our fairs; to grow their critical mass and move them up to the next level; to facilitate buyers and sellers; to make their jobs easier in a user-friendly setting.
Take the Lighting Fair. Until last year we had less than 50 or so lighting companies regularly participating in their own section at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair. We saw the potential to do more. With the Lighting Fair staged as a separate event last year we more than tripled the number of lighting exhibitors. Now we have more than 320, almost doubling last year's record.
Six of TDC's fairs have become the largest of their kind in Asia and have achieved "must visit" status on the global trade fair circuit for their respective industries. We look to all of you for input and feedback on how we can further improve all our fairs.
For out-of-town buyers, TDC's trade fairs right in the heart of Hong Kong are a total experience of all this city has to offer -- opportunity, entertainment, excitement and cross-cultural friendships that grow with each visit and each passing year.
I am delighted to see such a tremendous turnout at this my first official public function as TDC Chairman. May I wish you all a successful four days at the fair and, for overseas friends, an enjoyable time in a city that has sprung back busier than ever.