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TDC brings more players to Hong Kong's platform,
2004/05 Annual Report tabled today

Hong Kong should further strengthen its role as the international business platform of Asia to generate more demand for Hong Kong's higher value-added services, according to the Chairman of Trade Development Council (TDC), Mr Peter Woo.

In the Council's 2004/05 Annual Report, tabled at the Legislative Council today (June 29), he said this would create more jobs locally.

Mr Woo said TDC had put in a lot of effort in the past year to bring more players to Hong Kong's platform, especially new entrepreneurial firms in the mainland.

"By bringing more international players to our platform, we benefit from incoming talent and the increased volume of business transactions conducted in and through Hong Kong," Mr Woo said.

"More business generates more demand for Hong Kong's services. In this way, TDC pro-actively contributes to local job creation."

He said that with its successful transformation into a service economy, Hong Kong had become the business capital for companies anywhere in the world wishing to succeed in China and the Asia-Pacific.

"This is especially true for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Hong Kong is their international business and service platform."

Mr Woo added there had also been strengthened demand for Hong Kong's world-class financial and business services from private enterprises in the mainland, which was a major factor in the SAR's robust economic recovery last year.

He said Hong Kong had benefited significantly from the Central Government's new policy of encouraging mainland enterprises to "go out". Beijing's relaxation, last September, of procedures for mainland enterprises investing or setting up operations in Hong Kong was a further boost.

"This was evident in strong demand for office space in Kowloon, where many of these enterprises choose to locate because of attractive rents and convenience," he said.

In 2004, investment in Hong Kong from mainland private enterprises reached HK$7.4 billion, which was some three-and-a-half times the amount in the previous year.

The TDC Chairman noted that international trade fairs anchored in Hong Kong are highly significant in the dynamics of job creation. Amassing buyers and suppliers on the Hong Kong platform would generate intensive demand for higher value-added service jobs in a wide range of trades and industries, he said.

But Hong Kong faced a severe constraint on its role as the physical marketplace for the world due to a shortage of exhibition space at a time when competitors in other Asian cities were fast catching up.

Mr Woo said the solution was for Hong Kong rapidly to expand its physical exhibition capacity so that mega trade fairs anchored here could continue to grow.

"That is why the Council proposed to the SAR Government last September to expand the Convention and Exhibition Centre," he said.

"As believers in the art of the possible, we have found a way to do so without any reclamation or burden on the public purse."

The Government gave its essential policy support to the expansion proposal earlier this month and TDC just submitted an application today (June 29) to the Town Planning Board, which must approve the project.

TDC Executive Director, Mr Fred Lam, writing in the Council's Annual Report for the first time since his appointment in May 2004, reported that TDC had brought many more companies to Hong Kong from overseas and the mainland as well as more buyers to trade fairs organised here by the Council.

The total number of buyers visiting TDC's 21 trade fairs during the year reached half a million, up 46 per cent over the previous year.

Mr Lam said that while established overseas markets remained crucial to TDC's trade promotion programme, the Council was placing increased emphasis on helping local SMEs to crack emerging markets. Apart from the mainland, which naturally attracted the lion's share of their attention, TDC managed to ignite strong interest among local SMEs in markets further a-field such as the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

On finances, Mr Lam noted that TDC was becoming more self-sustaining. Government subvention via the trade declaration charge had declined nearly 39 per cent in eight years, to HK$361 million in 2004/05. "The subvention as a percentage of TDC's total income further declined this year from 25 per cent to 21 per cent," Mr Lam said.

He said the Council was able to increase its self-reliance by generating revenue from paid services and activities that were well patronized by SMEs. In addition, TDC continued stringently to control costs and head count. During the year, there was a pay cut for those relatively-few TDC employees whose salaries were deemed above the market, following an independent salary review.

In 2004/05, the Council's total income was HK$1,694 million, while total expenditure was HK$1,623 million, leaving a small surplus of HK$71 million. This money enables the Council to launch new promotional initiatives.

Mr Lam concluded that as the Council approached its 40th anniversary year in 2006, TDC was "lean, nimble and energized."

Webpage of TDC's Annual Report: http://www.tdctrade.com/annualreport2005/

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

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