The organisers of the annual Prime Source Forum in Hong Kong have expanded the event's round-table discussion format with the launch of a new online platform where international apparel executives can discuss key industry issues throughout the year.

The new Prime Source ThinkTank is a real-time, social media platform made up of eight discussion groups chaired by ten senior executives who are experts in specific areas.

Among the discussion groups are corporate social responsibility, education and human resources, legal affairs, product safety, the supply chain, sustainability, technology, and trade policy.

The platform means executives can communicate with their peers across geographical boundaries, but because it is only open to past Prime Source Forum delegates and their associates, discussions are expected to be frank and open.

Organisers are also keen to stress that the Prime Source ThinkTank will not replace the Forum, which will be held again next March and has earned a place as one of the industry's top networking events.

The American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), the Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) and the Apparel and Footwear Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) in Hong Kong are all involved in the new ThinkTank format.
"The Prime Source ThinkTank will allow the industry to talk with people who are following and affecting the top issues of the day, helping to generate dialogues 365 days a year," said Stephen Lamar, executive VP of the AAFA, who will chair the trade policy group.

While Stuart Harbinson, former senior adviser of the WTO and chair of the legal affairs group, said: "Barriers to international trade in the sector are still higher than in many other sectors, giving producers, importers, exporters and retailers worldwide a strong common interest in regularly sharing information and ideas, and discussing the latest developments."

Roger Lee, director of TAL Apparel Ltd and one of the chairs of the technology group, adds that the platform "is a natural extension of the Prime Source Forum and will allow participants from all parts of the industry to continue to discuss issues, challenges and trends as they are happening."

And Thomas A Nelson of VF Asia, chair of the supply chain group, also believes it "will be a neat way to put out topics and get feedback from our peers, as well as build consensus on ways the apparel industry can move things forward."

The 5th Prime Source Forum is scheduled to take place in the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre from 29 to 31 March 2010. The organisers expect some 500 senior executives to attend.