HKTDC helps SMEs amid unprecedented challenges
13 Febryary 2020, Hong Kong : With the novel coronavirus expected to further impact Hong Kong’s already slowing economy, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is working hand in hand with local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to brave the current challenges, by helping them diversify their business and explore new markets, and enhance their capabilities. Taking into account the impact of the corona virus (COVID-19) and the need to continue helping companies capture business opportunities, the Council is adjusting the schedule of its exhibitions and conferences in 2020.
HKTDC Chairman Dr. Peter K. N. Lam said Hong Kong has experienced unprecedented challenges over the past year, affecting the local political, economic and social landscape, as well as people’s livelihood. Given that Hong Kong’s economic outlook is already subdued because of the ongoing Sino-United States trade dispute, the weak global economy and the local social unrest over the past months, the impact of the current coronavirus outbreak could be higher than that of SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome) in 2003, further weakening demand in retail and catering and affecting the job market in the first half of this year.
Agility crucial to capturing business opportunities
To overcome the challenges resulting from epidemic prevention measures, which aim to restrict people-to-people contact, Dr Lam said the HKTDC is making use of various technologies and electronic platforms to maintain its basic daily operations in support of SMEs and rescheduling or reformatting its major events to help companies continue capturing opportunities. “If the situation improves by mid-year, we will step up our efforts in the second half of the year to help SMEs capture opportunities and diversify their business,” he said.
Dr Lam said that when the corona virus situation improves and the Mainland Chinese economy can resume its pace of growth. Hong Kong companies can tap into the mainland market through the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Development. They can also take advantage of preferential policies to expand into markets that have free trade agreements with Hong Kong, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc, Iceland, Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Australia, New Zealand, Georgia and Chile.
Dr Lam called on local companies to diversify their business by making good use of the resources provided by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government, including special funding for SMEs, various support measures, and events organised by the HKTDC and other public organisations. The HKTDC will continue to help local companies tap into Belt and Road Initiative markets and assist them to relocate manufacturing bases to economic zones and trade parks overseas.
Supporting SMEs in upgrading and transformation
The Council is also redoubling its efforts to help local companies capture business opportunities during these challenging times. To complement the various kinds of government funding provided to SMEs, the HKTDC is launching an enhanced SME support programme to help companies upgrade and transform. This initiative covers four areas – branding, e-commerce, new markets and manufacturing relocation – and offers free advisory services, workshops and marketing intelligence, along with a special rates and benefits for HKTDC events.
As technology is a key driver for economic growth, the HKTDC will continue to encourage local companies to integrate innovative technologies into their corporate development, helping them capture new opportunities arising in areas such as biotechnology, artificial intelligence, financial technology, smart city development, the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G. The HKTDC will also help local enterprises tap overseas markets and promote exchange and cooperation among global start-ups.
Realising the importance to rebuild international confidence in Hong Kong once the current circumstances ease, the HKTDC will in due course partner with the HKSAR Government and other organisations to promote Hong Kong as a global business and investment hub.