September 3, 2003
Hong Kong Returns to Basel in 2004
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council and Swiss-based MCH Basel Exhibition Ltd, show organizer of BaselWorld, signed an agreement on Sept. 3 marking a new era of partnership between Hong Kong and BaselWorld, both partners said. Hong Kong's participation in the 2003 BaselWorld was disrupted by a Swiss health decree which effectively prohibited exhibitors from opening their booths due to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which was spreading in Hong Kong at the time.
Under the new agreement, which spans six years, Hong Kong exhibitors will enjoy a prime location in a brand new exhibition edifice (Hall 6 or Hall of Universe), alongside the existing BaselWorld venue. Exhibitors have also been guaranteed stable participation fees at a competitive rate. As BaselWorld's partner, HKTDC will contribute seed money to the new hall's renovation.
The new partnership arrangement was arranged in close consultation with, and supported by, leaders of Hong Kong's six watch and jewelry associations. "This is a new partnership between HKTDC and BaselWorld which secures Hong Kong's participation for years to come on far more favorable terms," said HKTDC Deputy Executive Director Frederick Lam, who signed the new agreement along with Réne Kamm, MCH chief executive officer.
Kamm said Hong Kong held a special place in BaselWorld. "It is the only Asian territory represented on our Exhibitors Committee, it is also one of those few territories whose presence has been expanding rapidly in the last 20 years. For us, Hong Kong is not only an attraction for buyers, it has also set an excellent example for other countries in terms of the highest standard in presentation and design of its pavilion and stands."
A top designer is creating the new hall to develop the right ambience for Hong Kong and the international pavilions, said Kamm. The show is working to make the Hall of Universe a special attraction and focal point for the buyers coming from more than 100 countries to BaselWorld 2004, he said.
The State Secretary of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Franz von Däniken, and the Financial Secretary for the HKSAR Government, Henry Tang, witnessed the signing.
"Hong Kong is one of our most important trading partners in watches and jewelry. The Swiss government therefore deeply regrets that some difficulties have occurred precisely in this sector recently," said Däniken, who regrets that the Swiss government's decision caused resentment and harmed the interests of the Hong Kong exhibitors. "We on the Swiss side are aware that our efforts with regard to communication and coordination have to be strengthened, particularly in relation with such important trading partners like Hong Kong.
Let us look to the future. With the signing of the 'Hong Kong returns to Basel' agreement, the foundations will be laid for harmonious co-operation in the years to come."
BaselWorld 2004 will be held from April 15 to April 22, 2004 in Exhibition Square, Messeplatz, Basel.