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Mar 1998

HK Enterprise Internet



Meeting Brings Closer Ties

LEADERS of packaging industry associations in Hong Kong and mainland China met recently to exchange ideas and explore business opportunities. With Hong Kong exporting 66% or HK$20.1bn worth of its packaging products to the mainland in 1997, developing close ties is of mutual interest to both sides.

The mainland delegation, consisting of members of the China Packaging Technology Assn (CPTA), was in Hong Kong on a stopover after a visit to Italy. Jove Lin, chairman of the Hong Kong Packaging Institute (HKPI), introduced the Hong Kong organisation to the visitors. Incorporated in 1983, HKPI is a non-profit, professional body "set up to broaden the interests and foster the development of packaging technology in Hong Kong".

Lin said members consist of professionals, companies, students and other individuals interested in the packaging industry. HKPI handles enquiries and helps solve problems raised by members. It conducts courses, seminars and symposia on relevant subjects, and also organises study tours and factory visits.

CPTA's deputy general secretary Qian Jin explained the developments in the mainland's packaging industry. Established in 1980, CPTA is a quasi-official organisation administered by the State Economics and Trade Commission, and made up of enterprises, institutions and individuals engaged in the packaging industry. "It is a bridge between the government and the enterprises," said Qian.

The association helps the government manage the industry, such as giving advice when the government has to make decisions affecting the industry. CPTA is now working to raise the profile of Chinese products on the international market.

Although the mainland lags behind Hong Kong in terms of technology, design and workmanship, Qian said the gap is closing quickly. The mainland's packaging industry is growing rapidly, with total production in 1996 amounting to Rmb120bn [HK$111.6bn], a 15-fold jump from the 1980 total of Rmb7.2bn. In contrast, Hong Kong's total packaging exports for 1997 amounted to HK$30.46bn.

As the manufacture of packaging products is land- and labour-intensive, many Hong Kong factories have relocated to the mainland. But regardless of the location of the factory, one issue facing manufacturers on both sides of the border is the increasing global awareness of environmental problems caused by non-degradable plastic containers and bags. Manufacturers in Hong Kong are now using biodegradable plastic raw materials. They are also producing environmentally friendly paper packaging, although this is much more expensive than plastic containers.

Qian sees packaging as "an instrument that turns a product into a commodity". "So the most challenging and interesting factor in the packaging industry is to conform to rapidly changing market trends and needs," he said.

Written by Victor Hui

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