Exports U-turn but better days ahead

Container movements fall as city's exports are forecast to decline this year, but buyers at a trade fair expect brighter prospects in 2013

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 November, 2012, 3:53am

The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) has revised down its forecast for Hong Kong's export growth for the year from 1 per cent growth to a 1 per cent decline, said deputy executive director Benjamin Chau.

However, while he would not put a number on next year's expected export growth, Chau was more optimistic.

Container throughput in Hong Kong, the world's third-busiest port, suffered a year-on-year decline of 9.9 per cent in July, 9.2 per cent in August, and 2.4 per cent in September, according to the Hong Kong Port Development Council. For the first nine months throughput declined 3.9 per cent year-on-year, it said.

Pega, a Hong Kong manufacturer of iPhone accessories, expects its exports to fall 5 per cent to about HK$7 million this year, due mainly to the European debt crisis, said sales manager Vincent Lui. Pega has a factory in Shenzhen and exports mainly to Europe and the United States.

However, its exports should improve next year, said Lui.

In a survey of 1,500 buyers and exhibitors at the recent Hong Kong Electronics Fair and Hong Kong International Lighting Fair, half the respondents indicated that they expect better prospects next year.

About 35 per cent expect no change and the rest expected worse prospects.

"We are optimistic for next year. The US economy will recover, and Germany's economy is not that bad," said Chau.

The greatest proportion of respondents in the survey, 68 per cent, expected good growth prospects in Asia, while 63 per cent expect growth in Latin America and 57 per cent expect growth in the Middle East.

More than 40 per cent expressed interest in tapping the Asian market.

For North America, 43 per cent see growth, while 39 per cent expect growth in Western Europe. A high proportion of respondents, 31 per cent, expect Japan's market to decline next year.

Nearly 60 per cent of buyers surveyed expected their sourcing costs to increase next year, mainly due to rising raw material and labour costs in China, as well as exchange rate fluctuations.

"Production costs in China have risen a lot, but for now, Pega has not made a decision to move out of China. Transport and labour costs of our factory in Shenzhen are still better than Philippines," said Lui.

TDC held eight trade fairs in Hong Kong in October and November for goods including electronics, lighting, optical products and wine.

The fairs attracted 200,000 buyers from 163 countries, 6 per cent more than last year, and TDC estimated visitors to the fairs spent nearly HK$1.4 billion.