A survey undertaken by the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) reveals that 79% of 253 SMEs based in the city are trading across borders, with 54% of them wanting to participate in local or overseas trade fairs next year. Despite slowing economic growth in Mainland China, 55.5% of SMEs are forging ahead in their efforts to gain a foothold in this market. They are also focused on countries/regions like the USA (21.5%), Taiwan (12.5%) and Japan (12%) and emerging markets such as Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and Brazil.
While company owners recognize the importance of international opportunities, and there is a strong interest in growing their businesses abroad, the survey indicates that SMEs often face difficulties in opening new markets. Factors holding them back include the cost of financing, (29%) a lack of local market knowledge (29%), alongside others such as Government policy and a lack of logistical support in their target market.
Mr. Gordon Lo, General Manager (IT & Business Management) of HKPC, said, “While thorough market research and building a reliable sales network are important for SMEs in developing new markets, they also need to understand their strengths and weaknesses and address them accordingly to improve their chance of success. As the close partner of industry, HKPC has over the years been using its multi-disciplinary expertise to help SMEs to bridge the skills and technology gaps to enhance competitiveness and capture new business opportunities.”
HK has an illustrious record as one of the Asian Tigers that grew at a rapid rate and its problem of recent times has been to obtain growth with its SMEs, which are a significant contributor to economic growth. Once stemmied at the SME level, HK will not be able to accrue the GDP it seeks to achieve. It will take tremendous partnership the equivalent of its Singapore Economic Development Board, SPRING, and International Enterprise to drive efforts sustainably for the SMEs in their international efforts, without which stagnation will continue to become a gangrenous effect that causes these businesses to remain at home ground, with little ammunition for defensive or pre-emptive internationalisation.
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