1.What kind of important events has your esteemed association held and what kind of achievements or milestones has the association speaking for the interest of your members reached in 2018?
In April, we organized a delegation to visit Taiwan and the 2018 Taiwan International Fastener Show in Kaohsiung.
In June, we attended the EFDA-Conference on behalf of Hong Kong-based fastener industries.
In August, we gave a lecture on surface treatment relevant topics in collaboration with Hong Kong Surface Finishing Society.
In September, we organized a delegation to visit Shantou and Xiamen in mainland China and went to Italy for 2018 UDIB Global Fastener Meeting where I, on behalf of our members, gave a brief introduction to Hong Kong Fastener industry.
In October, we organized a delegation to attend the Five Regions Fastener Conference in Shanghai as well as the roundtable meeting with fastener association representatives from Asia, Europe and America. Also, we brought a group of exhibitors from HK to participate in the International Fastener Expo in Las Vegas, along with a delegation to visit the West Coast of USA.
In 2018, we’ve allied with other chambers of commerce in Hong Kong for times to speak against the government’s anti-offset arrangement for Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes.
In 2018, representatives of Hong Kong fastener industry participated in events outside Asia for the first time, including the attendance in the EFDA-Conference in June and Global Fastener Meeting in Milan in September to give a brief introduction to HK fastener industry. In the same year, we successfully enrolled in the government’s project for funding SMEs and organized a delegation to exhibit overseas for the first time. We exhibited in the U.S. trade show this October and will exhibit at another one in Germany in March 2019. This is our first time paying a visit to U.S. and European fastener industries.
2. As there is still no sign that the trade war will end soon, what do you think your association can do to help members face the challenges?
The market sentiment is turbulent in 2018. It performed quite well in the beginning of the year, but has become unclear since the middle of the year due to the influence of U.S.-China trade war. Some companies did feel the pressure. I heard that some companies’ orders dropped by more than 50% , which resulted in the layoffs of almost all employees. I also heard from quite a few of our clients that they are facing extreme pressure ahead and are seriously considering business relocation because they haven’t even received any new orders thus far for the next year when their orders for this years are almost done. In addition to the trade war, Europe may be an alternative with business opportunities for their fastener export, however, as the scenarios of the EU market remain unclear, the overall market and trade environment remains unclear as well.
On top of that, the industry faces issues like the lack of labors, hiking cost and increasing burden of taxes, etc. With the reduction in demographic dividend, not so many young people are willing to work in factories. Shortage of skilled labors is a critical issue for the industry. Furthermore, the continuous rise in assorted costs and the increasing taxes and types of administrative & social insurance charges levied by the Chinese authorities are making companies suffer from the outside and within.
We hope to create business opportunities for members by exhibiting overseas. In the meantime, we embark on our active overseas exchange programs to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, India, and many other countries joining “the Belt and Road Initiative” proposed by China, as well as the U.S. and Europe, in hope of making our friends overseas have a better understanding of Hong Kong fastener industry. We are also trying to keep our industry well-informed of any preferential policies proposed by HK Government, as through these policies, our industry could advance transformation, reduce too much dependence on labors, and push the development of AI-driven industries forward.
3. What is your expectation and prospect toward the fastener industry in 2019?
HK-based enterprises are characteristic of their flexibility. Continuous reform is their only way to survival. HK enterprises need to remain flexible in management and reform continuously to find a niche for their own industry. Besides the activities already arranged for 2019, we are actively seeking collaboration with other chambers of commerce in Hong Kong or overseas associations, in order to create more business opportunities for members. Although the trade war continues to be an issue, it is still hard to tell if it will continue to influence the market in the future; on the other hand, the situation in the U.S. is not easy to forecast, either. A friend for today may be an opponent for another day. 2019 will be a year for the industry to keep steady development while continuing to look for opportunities.
4. Is there anything else you’d also like to share with our readers?
This year we attended the international conferences in Italy and Shanghai where representatives from different countries expressed their anticipation for global industrial collaboration. I’m always confident that collaboration is the way to reciprocal benefits. Through the endeavors of Hong Kong Screw & Fastener Council, I hope all of our good friends in the fastener industry could think outside the conventional bounds and work together to make our fastener industry to an improving better level.