11 July 2019
SMEs tackle fast-changing world
Businesses in Hong Kong, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), are adapting to a drastically different global environment as the trade dispute between Mainland China and the United States drags on.
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is rolling out a set of measures to support businesses to help them tackle these challenges, as well as strengthening its current programmes.
Introducing these measures at a media luncheon on 5 July, HKTDC Chairman Peter K N Lam said the long-drawn-out trade and technology rivalry and the continued trade conflict between the US and the mainland were creating a fundamental change in the global economic order in terms of production and trade patterns. “Hong Kong businesses must be prepared to make changes,” he said.
“The further opening up in the mainland, Asia and other emerging economies will provide fresh opportunities for Hong Kong companies,” said Dr Lam. “We will utilise our international network of 50 offices to comprehensively assist Hong Kong businesses to diversify and find new opportunities amid the challenges.” He noted that the HKTDC had been supporting SME development in Hong Kong for more than 50 years
Dr Lam was joined by HKTDC Executive Director Margaret Fong and Edward Yau, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), in explaining its new initiatives.
Seizing the moment
He said the HKTDC’s priority in the coming year would be to help Hong Kong businesses explore new markets and seek out fresh manufacturing investment partnerships and different supply chain models that can enhance their capabilities and competitiveness. The HKTDC will adopt a multifaceted strategy to equip local companies to capture opportunities arising from the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and Belt and Road countries.
This strategy entails several measures, including boosting provision of market intelligence to help SMEs make informed decisions. The HKTDC organises free seminars and training workshops for Hong Kong businesses – such as this one on using the mainland-based WeChat for marketing – and provides essential information such as trade updates, market studies and funding schemes through the dedicated “US Trade” webpage.
The HKTDC will also step up efforts to help Hong Kong manufacturers explore sourcing and production options, such as alternative supply chains and developing production lines in industrial parks in Belt and Road countries.
As Hong Kong companies diversify their businesses, the HKTDC will help them tap into new markets and expand existing markets around the world. The HKTDC will also help firms use the Greater Bay Area to further penetrate the mainland domestic market and access this vast region of 70 million people.
The HKTDC will raise the profile of Hong Kong products and brands at leading international trade events in developed markets and improve the international exposure of HKTDC fairs and sourcing platforms by stepping up the recruitment of global buyers to take part in trade fairs in Hong Kong.
Global flagship events
Dr Lam said the HKTDC will continue to promote Hong Kong’s advantages in connecting the Greater Bay Area with global business communities, as well as exploring the potential of the region’s consumer market and technology sector. The Council will feature the Greater Bay Area in its flagship events including “Think Asia, Think Hong Kong” in Los Angeles in the US (20 September 2019) and “In Style • Hong Kong” in Manila, the Philippines (5-6 March 2020), encouraging overseas companies to leverage Hong Kong’s advantages to expand into the Greater Bay Area and beyond.
Dr Lam also highlighted several mainland initiatives. The SmartHK event in Guangzhou on 27 August 2019 will promote Hong Kong’s financial services, professional services and innovative technologies, incorporating Industry 4.0, advanced manufacturing technologies, automation and robotics as new elements. The HKTDC will also cooperate with Cyberport and the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation to encourage Hong Kong tech start-ups to exhibit at the event, helping them to raise funds, attract partners and facilitate business connections.
Drawing on the fast-growing Greater Bay Area market, the mega consumer promotion Chic HK in Guangzhou from 9-13 January 2020 will promote Hong Kong designers and branded products. On the same theme, the Design Gallery retail network will continue to expand in the Greater Bay Area. There are 19 outlets at present in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Foshan, Jiangmen, Zhaoqing and Zhuhai.
Dr Lam said the HKTDC will organise business missions to Greater Bay Area cities, covering a wide range of industries, to help Hong Kong businesses explore new market opportunities.
The Outline Development Plan for the Greater Bay Area highlights Hong Kong’s role in developing a high-end convention and exhibition business. In addition to increasing fairs’ international exposure, Dr Lam said the HKTDC will also enrich the exhibition content and introduce new product zones to further elevate sourcing efficiency and enhance the overall attractiveness and competitiveness of the fairs.
HKTDC fairs continue to achieve positive results despite the current uncertainties. “We have organised eight trade fairs in the new fiscal year so far, and the total number of buyers showed a 2% year-on-year increase, with significant growth from emerging markets such as the mainland, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Brazil, and mature markets such as France and Japan, while the number of buyers from the US has remained steady,” Dr Lam said.
The eight fairs were the HKTDC Hong Kong International Lighting Fair (Spring Edition), HKTDC Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Spring Edition), HKTDC International ICT Expo, HKTDC Hong Kong Houseware Fair, HKTDC Hong Kong International Home Textiles and Furnishings Fair, HKTDC Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair, the Hong Kong International Printing & Packaging Fair, and the HKTDC International Medical and Healthcare Fair.