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Lawrence Ma
Lawrence Ma

Records broken at Hong Kong fair

The Hong Kong International Jewellery Show closed today. Touted as the largest spring trade fair in Asia, visitor numbers were certainly enhanced by the Aussies.

With what is likely to be a record number of attendees from Australia and New Zealand – over 700 – Hong Kong jewellery exports to Australia have also increased from the previous year.

According to official government figures, only four countries increased their jewellery trade with Hong Kong in 2009. Exports to Australia increased by nine per cent, and if one ignores exports to Mainland China (a 68 per cent increase) then only Macau recorded an increase greater than Australia.

According to Lawrence Ma, Advisory Council chairman, Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), only two western countries recorded increases in jewellery trade with Hong Kong – Australia and Belgium.

While exports to Belgium increased by three per cent, Macau was the fourth country that increased, at around 30 per cent, but Macau is a special administrative region of China.

Ma explained that Australia’s importance to Hong Kong has grown at a time when the rest of the developed world’s jewellery markets have suffered at the hands of the GFC.

“This (increase in trade) represents that the Australian economy is doing better than the rest of the world. More importantly, there’s a growth trend of more Australian buyers coming to Hong Kong,” Ma said, adding that the strong dollar also helped Australian importers.

Ma is also president of the Diamond Federation of Hong Kong and has his own jewellery export business. He believes the trend of Australian buyers visiting Hong Kong will increase: “I think the increase (in sales and visitor numbers) really reflects that the economic situation is not nearly as bad as other countries. My own company has had an increase in buyers from Australia,” he said.

Asked whether the increase in visitors was at the expense of other trade fairs, especially Bangkok, which is continually affected by the political turmoil in Thailand, Ma said, “Yes, quite possibly.”

“The industry’s view is that we are quite confident of the March jewellery show and the Hong Kong industry in general. I think that we, together with the Chinese Mainland manufacturing provinces, will become stronger and stronger,” he said.

The HKTDC sponsored more than 2,000 buyers at this year’s fair. The government-backed organisation is the global marketing arm for Hong Kong-based manufacturers. Its buyer sponsorship program targets new buyers – especially from the emerging markets of Russia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

A fairly confident buzz abounded on the show’s opening day – March 4. It also appeared that exhibitor bookings reflected a renewed vigour in the industry – given a record 2,600 companies from 44 countries exhibited.

That result represented a 12 per cent increase over last year, which has been aided by the completed renovation of the already-enormous exhibition centre. It was the first time that the March fair included the additional atrium levels.

The fair now exceeds 87,000 square metres, with around 30,000 visitors attending in 2009.

Six Australian companies also exhibited at this year’s fair. One new-comer, Brisbane based CloverMe, decided to attend only three weeks before the fair.

CloverMe managing director Richard Zander explained that although it was a last-minute decision, and one that resulted in being located in the aptly named Expo Drive – a euphemism for the carpeted car park – his company was extremely pleased with the results.

Speaking on the third day of the fair, Zander said, “It has been fantastic, we have great interest from all over Europe. We have also seen people from the US and we have a number of companies from Spain that have expressed serious interest in our patented products.”

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