LegCo Panel on Trade and Industry
Helping Business Study in Trade Department


This paper outlines the up-to-date position of the Helping Business Study in the Trade Department.


2. The Trade Department Study is one of the seven pilot studies under Phase I of the Government’s Helping Business Programme. The Study was started in early June 1996. A report was produced in mid October 1996 with a range of recommendations on how to develop a more pro-business culture and promote a business friendly environment for traders requiring services from the Department.

Findings and Recommendations

3. The Study reveals that the Trade Department has made significant progress in developing a more pro-business culture in recent years. Nevertheless, it is observed that more can be done to further develop this culture. It is found that within the Department there are in existence many elements that contribute towards the delivery of better service and the development of a more business friendly environment. Yet a stronger customer focus approach and better co-ordinated efforts should help promote a more pro-active style of customer service, without losing sight of the importance of maintaining the overall licensing control environment.


4. The Department has examined the Study Report in depth and, after careful consideration of all resources implications, decided to implement 21 recommendations covering the following six main areas :

    Development of a Corporate and Pro-business Culture;
    Strengthening of Interface with the Public;
    Improvement of Performance Pledges;
    Re-arrangement of "Cold Quota" Allocation;
    Initiation of Service Level Agreements; and
    "One-Stop Shop" for Non-Textiles Licensing under Reference.

A list of the 21 recommendations is appended.

5. A plan has been drawn up with targeted time tables to carry out the recommendations. The Department has tasked its Working Group on Serving the Community to oversee the implementation of the recommendations.


6. The Department has consulted the Textiles Advisory Board and the Customer Liaison Group, both of which are supportive of the way ahead.

Trade Department
February 1997
(Ref : TRA CR 2003)


Recommendations in Helping Business Study to be Taken Forward

Development of a Corporate and Pro-Business Culture

(1) To develop a Vision and Mission Statement, along with the objectives for the department, of which the provision of quality customer service should be one.

(2) To draw up training programmes to support the development of a pro-business culture and to meet, in this relation, job specific competencies which should help develop the culture.

(3) To develop and implement for the TO grade performance measurement systems built upon core competencies designed to realise the objectives as set in the Vision and Mission Statement, which should embrace also the provision of client focus service.

(4) To replace in phases Trade Control Officers by Assistant Trade Officers (ATOs) to facilitate the opportunity for the department to develop its own culture with the right focus on customer service.

Strengthening of Interface with the Public

(5) To notify promptly errors in applications to Traders and to make available also documents for immediate collection.

(6) To include in all notifications of deferment/rejection of applications the name of licensing officer from whom further explanations can be obtained.

(7) To re-examine trivial errors in licence applications which should no longer be counted towards a deferment/rejection decision.

(8) To upgrade ground floor information counter with good use of colour and lighting and to re-grade an existing COII post to COI level.

(9) To re-align customer service windows by each licensing branch.

(10) To achieve uniformity of decision making (other than in areas where specific trading obligations need to be met) across the whole operation of the TD through review of departmental operations.

(11) To review TD publications with a view to designing them to be more appealing to the public and Traders, be simple and easy to understand and be a vehicle to promote the Trade Department as a vibrant and responsive organisation.

(12) To reposition Hotline (IVRS) telephone service to provide only basic, introductory information to enquirers, including how to obtain more detailed information.

(13) To establish and publicise an Internet home page incorporating amongst others, customer focused information.

(14) To use electronic notice-board on the ground floor foyer for important or emerging issues so that they stand out, and for such issues to be expressed in less technical language.

(15) To form core teams of customer liaison staff to provide dedicated, focused and professional service and to aim at helping Traders to successfully complete necessary documentation - "first time, every time".

Improvement of Performance Pledge

(16) To review scope for improved pledge times as well as the defined transactions for shorter pledge times/slightly longer pledge times.

(17) To include in the pledge table pledges to cover service level response times for written requests for information or decisions, to be answered or acknowledged within a short period of time, and a full reply to the Traders within a slightly longer period of time.

Re-arrangement of "Cold Quota" Allocation

(18) To extend, where appropriate, coverage of "Quota Window Arrangement" to "Cold Categories", i.e. applications of export licences in these categories are considered on a first-come-first-served basis until the quotas available are exhausted.

Initiation of Service Level Agreements

(19) To initiate a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with Customs & Excise Department to strengthen liaison between both departments and to raise the existing level of co-operation to achieve better results.

(20) To initiate a SLA with each of the five Government Approved Certification Organisations to provide administrative explanation of the activities and responsibilities of both parties and to monitor performance.

"One-Stop Shop" for Non-Textiles Licensing under Reference

(21) To arrange transfer to Department of Health licensing controls over :

    frozen meat and poultry;
    pharmaceuticals and medicines; and
    radioactive materials and irradiating apparatus.

Last Updated on 21 August 1998