Role of Trade Development Agencies in The New Asia

Extract from The New Asia--Business Strategies for the Economic Region That Is Shaking Up the World

By David James and Rajeev Merchant

The New Asia - link to book

Many countries, especially those with developed economies or active in international trade, have trade development agencies that are established and supported by their governments.  Some of the leading trade development agencies in Asia include the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT).  These agencies play a significant role in the development of their economies in our globalized world.

The HKTDC, established in 1966, is one of the longest-serving and most active trade development agencies in Asia.  It represents Hong Kong-based traders, manufacturers and service providers, helping them to make connections and find business opportunities throughout the world.  The HKTDC maintains more than 40 offices worldwide, including New York City, Los Angeles, Paris, Frankfurt, Sydney and Dubai.  It provides an online marketplace, organizes trade fairs and conferences, as well as trade missions to and from Hong Kong. The HKTDC also publishes product magazines, arranges business-matching meetings, and provides business news and information, market research, and various advisory services.

The HKTDC is not to be confused with the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices (HKETOs), which are the official representatives of the HKSAR Government.  The HKTDC is a statutory trade promotional body promoting trade between Hong Kong and other economies.

Examples of the HKTDC’s work include three large-scale trade promotion conferences held in London in 2011 and Tokyo and Osaka in 2012.  Each conference attracted businesspeople in those cities eager to learn more about doing business in Asia, particularly the Chinese mainland, using the Hong Kong business platform.  The events consisted of plenary sessions with noted speakers, and concurrent sector-specific and thematic sessions.  Subjects included selling to China, technology and creative collaboration, and renminbi business services.  Hong Kong services providers and trade organizations were present to provide practical advice during on-site consultations with participants.  The campaign also included a business-to-consumer program featuring information on Hong Kong design, arts, culinary delights and the city as a travel destination. The full campaigns attracted 2,600 UK and 4,700 Japanese participants.

Comments by Mr. Raymond Yip  *

We believe that the work of the HKTDC has made a significant contribution to the economy of Hong Kong.  When it comes to international trade, companies everywhere need to reach out to counterparts in other countries and establish lasting business relationships.  The HKTDC and trade development organisations like it provide an important service to their economies and business communities by bringing together like-minded business interests and new international enterprises, facilitating collaborations and investments.

After the London, Tokyo and Osaka conferences, we were able to arrange 20 trade missions from the United Kingdom to Hong Kong, with 234 delegates from 203 companies participating.  We also arranged 8 trade missions from Japan, with 123 delegates from 61 companies participating.  Other trade missions are being organized, and we are planning similar conferences in the United States in 2013.  Enquiries from the United Kingdom and Japan rose by a staggering 80% and 62% respectively since the two events.

One of our significant efforts in recent years has been to help Hong Kong companies seize opportunities in Chinese mainland arising from China’s burgeoning domestic demand and rising middle class.  Since 2007, we have organized a series of “Style Hong Kong” shows in 14 different cities in China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Fuzhou.  These shows have embraced a series of some 20 business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) expositions that lined up some 4,500 one-on-one business matchup meetings between Hong Kong and Chinese participants.  As a result, Hong Kong companies have opened some 270 new outlets in China and have established over 100 new franchises and agencies there.

The HKTDC is saying to the world, “Think Global, Think Hong Kong.”  Our message is that Hong Kong wants to do business with you.

*  Raymond Yip is Assistant Executive Director of HKTDC in Hong Kong.  Mr. Yip has worked in a variety of positions and offices at the HKTDC, including New York, Tokyo and London.  His recent postings include: Director, Information Service (e-commerce development); Regional Director, Western Europe/Middle East and Africa (based in London); and Director, Exhibitions.

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