Hong Kong exports to double next year
Vibrant mainland Chinese and US economies will fuel trade through the city, with growth in value outpacing volume, industry body says
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The Hong Kong Trade Development Council says the city's export growth will double next year from this year.
In terms of export value, growth is expected to be 4 per cent on the back of more vibrant economic growth in mainland China and a stable economy in the United States, up from a 2 per cent rise this year. Volume is expected to increase 1 per cent, after a 1 per cent decline this year.
The growth in value would outpace volume as steeper production costs in mainland factories were being reflected in higher prices, Edward Leung, HKTDC's director of research, said yesterday.
The HKTDC export index, which gauges exporters' confidence in the overall market, has dropped for two consecutive quarters to 31.6 points in the fourth quarter this year. The index has stayed below the threshold of 50 for the whole year, reflecting concern over the European debt crisis and the slowdown in the mainland's economy. Above 50 indicates positive sentiment.
Some good news lightened up the dull export market towards the year end. Retail sales over the US Thanksgiving weekend unexpectedly grew 13 per cent from a year earlier, and helped boost demand from the US in the fourth quarter.
Shipments of high-technology products have surged since September, mainly due to the demand for Apple and Samsung smartphones. Because Hong Kong is a transshipment hub for products produced across the border, every 1 per cent increase in cargo demand translated into 2 per cent cargo volume growth in Hong Kong, said Leung.
Hong Kong exporters' confidence in the US market edged up to 40.8 points in the fourth quarter from 40.2 points in the previous quarter. It was the only one of the four major markets to show an increase in confidence. Europe, mainland China and Japan's markets remained soft.
Still, Leung cautioned that there were some uncertainties on the horizon, including the prolonged euro-zone woes and the sour relationship between Japan and China. "Since the EU is not determined to resolve the problem, the debt crisis will linger," he said.
Exports to Europe, which account for 10 per cent of total export value from Hong Kong, fell 9 per cent in the first 10 months of this year from a year earlier.
"About 10 per cent of the trade between [mainland] China and Japan goes through Hong Kong," Leung said.
Exports to mainland China from Japan dropped 12 per cent in October from a year earlier, as the demand for cars and machinery was hit by anti-Japanese sentiment.