HONG KONG, April 1 (Xinhua) -- The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) Wednesday launched Spring Virtual Expo to meet the needs of procurement amid the COVID-19 epidemic and to prepare for the resumption of trade fairs in the future.
"When overseas buyers can't come to Hong Kong to do sourcing and purchasing due to the epidemic, we make it online," Deputy Executive Director of HKTDC Benjamin Chau said in a recent interview with Xinhua, adding that Hong Kong is an important sourcing center and was supposed to attract hundreds of buying missions in March and April, the traditional peak season for trade fairs.
As of March 27, more than 1,600 exhibitions around the world have been canceled or rescheduled, according to HKTDC that has a total of 18 large-scale events postponed. Nine exhibitions originally to be held by HKTDC between April to May in Hong Kong are now merged into one comprehensive exhibition and postponed to July 25 to 28.
As a statutory body in Hong Kong that organizes international exhibitions, conferences and business missions to create business opportunities for companies, SMEs in particular, HKTDC holds 37 large-scale exhibitions each year, attracting 40,000 exhibitors and over 770,000 buyers to join.
"Spring Virtual Expo paves way for the joint exhibition in July," Chau said that it is expected that online and offline exhibitions produce synergy and he hoped to see more buyers come to Hong Kong when physical fairs resume.
The month-long Spring Virtual Expo focuses on four themes including technology, lighting and electronics; gifts and houseware; lifestyle; and fashion and beauty. It has received a positive response from suppliers. About 22,000 suppliers are participating in the virtual show.
In the future, physical and online exhibitions need to complement each other, Chau said, suggesting that SMEs should put more effort into combining the two approaches.
HKTDC started online business promotion as early as in the year 2000. Their online platform includes more than 100,000 suppliers and 2 million registered buyers, facilitating 24 million supplier-buyer matches each year.
Although the outbreak may continue for some time, Chau said, he was confident that it will eventually end, and HKTDC will continue to provide the best sourcing channels for companies as Hong Kong has a free flow of people, goods and capital.
Furthermore, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) government has launched a 30 billion HK dollars (about 3.8 billion U.S. dollars) anti-epidemic fund to help enterprises and members of the public to tide over the difficulties. About 1 billion HK dollars are used to support the convention and exhibition industry.
Chau said that the HKSAR government will provide a 50 percent subsidy to enterprises for participating in a trade exhibition, with a ceiling of 10,000 HK dollars. Apart from Hong Kong enterprises, exhibitors from other regions will also benefit from this measure.(1 U.S. dollar = 7.75 Hong Kong dollars)