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Consolidation Beckons In Hong Kong's Electronic Trade Management

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

09 December 2002

Tradelink, the Hong Kong e-trade management company which has a monopoly on the electronic transfer of regulatory trade documents in the SAR, is about to take stakes in two companies linked to Hutchison Whampoa, confirmed the government's Commerce, Technology and Industry Bureau (CITB). Tradelink is said to be close to buying 10% of OnePort, a container trade management portal for the maritime industries at Kwai Chung, and will also shortly complete a share swap with Logistics Information Network Enterprise (LINE), a Hutchison subsidiary which provides supply chain solutions for mainland trade.

Tradelink Electronic Commerce Ltd is a joint venture between the Hong Kong SAR Government and other private sector shareholders who are all key players in the international trade cycle in Hong Kong, either directly or as representative organisations. The Government's shareholding, through CITB, is just under 42% and other shareholders include HSBC Holdings, Pacific Century CyberWorks, China Resources (Holdings), Swire Pacific, Modern Terminals and Hongkong International Terminals.

Under an agreement signed with the Government in 1992, Tradelink provides a 'single electronic gateway' between the trading community and the Hong Kong SAR Government for a range of specified trade transactions. The current franchise runs from January 1997 to December 2003. As well as providing an electronic link to Government, Tradelink's services offer a number of value-added transaction management facilities including message checking, matching and validation; message authentication and security; electronic billing and payments; and message archiving and audit trail services.

Tradelink LINE and OnePort are involved, along with other partners, in a coalition which is offering to develop a Digital Trade Transport Network (DTTN) for Hong Kong using existing technology in preference to a green-field solution proposed by Accenture. It is widely agreed that the SAR badly needs to co-ordinate the logistics of multi-modal trade flows through the proposed DTTN. The coalition told the government that its alternative proposal could be up and running "by the second half of next year" at a cost of HK$120 million in the first two years, as against a cost of up to HK1 billion for the Accenture plan, which would take up to three years to implement.

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