A new Hong Kong wine fair scheduled three months after Vinexpo Asia-Pacific has been dubbed ‘opportunistic’ by Vinexpo.

The Hong Kong International Wine Expo will take place in August 2008 – three months after Vinexpo Asia-Pacific and in the same venue, the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

But Wine Expo’s organisers, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC), insist they do not seek to compete with Vinexpo.

‘We are targeting different exhibitors and a different audience,’ said Raymond Yip, assistant executive director of the TDC.

‘In addition to new world and European producers, for example, we plan to attract a lot of wine producers from Asian countries – the Chinese mainland, Japan, Korea and the Philippines. And one of the days will be open to the public, allowing closer interaction between sellers and consumers.

‘We believe that Hong Kong can attract more overseas business for wine storage, re-export and investment in wine-based financial instruments.’

A spokesperson for Vinexpo Asia-Pacific, scheduled for 27- 29 May, called the TDC’s move ‘opportunistic’.

‘We have held our wine fair somewhere in Asia every other year since 1998,’ said the spokesperson. ‘This will be our third in Hong Kong. We feel we really have helped develop the market in the first place.’

Nick Pegna, managing director of Berry Bros in Hong Kong said, ‘We have heard about the TDC Expo and I cannot confirm if we will be involved until I have more information. I wish the Expo well, but am concerned that may come too soon after Vinexpo.’

As a retailer, Berry’s is unable to participate directly in Vinexpo but will be hosting client events.

The TDC was motivated to launch Wine Expo following the abolition in February of the 40% tax on all alcoholic beverages save spirits.

Citing projections that by 2017, the mainland will lead the region in wine imports, worth HK$7bn, the TDC anticipates that Hong Kong will become a hub for all wine related activity – from storage and re-export, to wine investment funds.

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Written by Maggie Rosen