Exports head for end-of-year bounce

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 October, 2013, 2:57am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 October, 2013, 2:57am

Exports may enjoy high single-digit growth this year because of better-than-expected deliveries of electronic goods and smartphone accessories ahead of Christmas, according to the Federation of Hong Kong Industries.

But the Trade Development Council is less optimistic and has maintained its export growth forecast of 4 per cent for the whole year, saying it would be a tall order to double the export growth rate from 3.2 per cent in the first nine months to 6 or 7 per cent for the full year.

Nicholas Kwan, the TDC's research director, said that while traders' sentiment had become optimistic over the past month, the growth was confined to a few sectors. "I don't see room for Hong Kong exports to rise by double digits in the final quarter," he said. "We do expect, however, that there will be better prospects next year."

Stanley Lau Chin-ho, the chairman of the FHKI, agreed that the growth was focused on several sectors.

"Electronics is strong overall, especially accessories for smartphones and smart watches," Lau said.

Toys were flat in general but some special toys and gadgets had become hits.

Garments and apparel were weak, with US retailer chain Wal-Mart and sportswear giant Nike slashing orders amid rising inventory, according to Hong Kong suppliers.

With US companies trying to double exports in the five years to 2014, Lau - owner of one of the largest watchmakers in the Pearl River Delta - said he and other Hong Kong manufacturers had been approached by American investors to move part of their production lines to the US.

"They offered tax waivers and other incentives," he said. "But I don't think it would be any easier to find workers there than on the mainland, nor will they be any cheaper."

Boston Consulting Group, a global management consulting firm, said production costs in coastal China would only be 10 to 15 per cent lower than that of the southern US by 2015, taking into account mainland workers' productivity, which the firm estimated will only reach 40 per cent of Americans' by 2015.

The value of Hong Kong's exports to the US fell 0.2 per cent in the January-September period, compared to a jump of 17.6 per cent for US imports into the city.