Industrial output in low gear
By SIMON FLUENDY
INDUSTRIAL production in Hong Kong continued its slow downward trend in the first quarter, falling 0.9 per cent year on year.
Production dropped by an average of 0.8 per cent for the whole of 1993.
The biggest decline was in the chemicals industry where production went down 11.9 per cent, with 22 per cent drop in the plastics industry helping to pull the sector down.
Metals and metal fabrication was off 6.7 per cent, with non-machinery metal fabrication falling 5.7 per cent.
The garment industry continued its steady shrinkage, recording a drop of 3.2 per cent. Production had fallen by 29.8 per cent in the fourth quarter of 1993.
Some sectors bucked the trend, with food, drink and tobacco industries increasing 6.3 per cent, while electronic and electrical products went up 5.6 per cent.
Within the electrical products industry, production of components and equipment increased 6.2 per cent, while manufacturing of consumer goods fell 0.9 per cent.
The paper and paper products industry was up 1.4 per cent.
The figures indicated sharper drops compared with the fourth quarter of 1993, a seasonal effect caused by the Chinese New Year and other holidays. Hong Kong manufacturing dropped rapidly in the late 1970s and early 1980s as manufacturers shifted across the border to set up factories with low-paid workers.
China is now introducing labour laws to protect workers from foreign factory owners exploiting them in often appalling and dangerous conditions. The practice has been the basis of South China's 'economic miracle.'