TDC Executive Director Fred Lam urges estate agents to develop competitive edge

Mr Fred Lam, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC), spoke at the fourth seminar of the Estate Agents Authority's (EAA) "Distinguished Speaker Series" on 3 May 2006. Drawing on his insights and knowledge of Hong Kong trade, Mr Lam stimulated and challenged estate agency practitioners at the seminar with his speech, "Building Together a Successful Hong Kong Platform".

At the seminar, Mr Lam reviewed the history of trade in Hong Kong and expounded on its contributions to Hong Kong's economic development. He also analysed Hong Kong's trade prospects and encouraged the service industry, including the estate agency trade, to enter the Mainland market, while staying competitive with a high level of professional knowledge and integrity.

Mr Lam explained that with rising energy costs and increasing competition from Mainland companies, Hong Kong cannot continue to rely on cheap costs as its main competitive edge. The way forward for Hong Kong's economy must be with new ways of thinking. The Mainland, he said, should be seen as an opportunity rather than a threat, a market rather than a pool of cheap labour. Hong Kong should transform itself from "the gateway to the Mainland" into a platform of trade in the Mainland.

According to Mr Lam, Hong Kong can serve as a springboard for the three million private enterprises in the Mainland that aspire to break into overseas markets. With its established networks and knowledge gained from over 20 years of business in the Mainland, Hong Kong can also act as a partner for foreign small and medium-sized enterprises seeking to enter the Mainland market and reduce their risk. As the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Agreement enters the third phase, a wider variety of Hong Kong goods and services now enjoy duty-free entry into the Mainland market.

The small market of Hong Kong may be complemented by the Mainland. In particular, the nearby Pearl River Delta area, which boasts the highest consumption power in the entire country, has great potential to be a prominent domestic market for Hong Kong.

Mr Lam also gave the audience a few tips on how to succeed in the Mainland. Since the service industry is all about talent and connections, members of the Hong Kong service sector must cultivate a distinctive image of Hong Kong in the Mainland, so that Hong Kong companies are the first to spring to mind. Moreover, Hong Kong should see "value", not "price", as its competitive edge, with high integrity and professional standards of service as its selling points. Mr Lam also encouraged the service sector in Hong Kong to recruit the most talented staff and adopt the best practices from around the world. Practitioners, he added, should raise their Putonghua standards.

With an effective system and high levels of integrity and knowledge, the service sector in Hong Kong has its advantages. Mr Lam encouraged practitioners to provide "added value" on top of regular agency services. For the service industry, where there is added value, there is survival.

Mr Fred Lam

Mr Fred Lam, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, delivers a speech, "Building Together a Successful Hong Kong Platform", at the fourth seminar of the EAA's "Distinguished Speaker Series"..



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