Fall in exports a sign of consumer doubt

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 August, 2009, 12:00am

Hong Kong's trade suffered a major setback last month as total exports shrank almost one-fifth year on year in a worrying sign consumers are unconvinced about a recovery.

July's 19.9 per cent drop in the value of total exports to HK$212.28 billion from a year ago followed four months of steadily smaller declines that saw exports drop by just 5.4 per cent in June, the Census and Statistics Department said.

Last month's result was worse than the 12 per cent average fall economists had expected.

Between April and June, Hong Kong, Singapore and other markets recorded their first quarterly growth since the credit crunch, spurring hopes of a quick turnaround.

A government spokesman attributed the steep drop to the relatively high base of comparison in July last year, when the value of exports rose to more than HK$265.1 billion, the second highest on record.

The weak performance was part of a trend across the region as demand for imports in advanced economies was still subdued, the spokesman said.

The recovery would be uneven given that overseas demand had yet to show signs of near-term improvement, he said.

Of total exports last month, reexports, which account for about 97 per cent, fell 19.2 per cent to HK$207.14 billion and domestic exports dropped 41.3 per cent to about HK$5.14 billion. Imports fell 17.8 per cent to HK$233.95 billion, with the trade deficit widening to just under HK$21.67 billion from HK$16.48 billion in June.