Hong Kong exports show healthy rise despite uncertainty

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 December, 2013, 1:07am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 December, 2013, 2:14pm

Hong Kong's merchandise exports grew more strongly than expected last month, by 5.8 per cent year on year, but economic uncertainties in key markets continue to muddy the outlook.

Exports rose to HK$325.52 billion in November, exceeding October's HK$323.14 billion, data from the Census and Statistics Department showed yesterday.

According to some economists, trade is likely to finish the full year 4 per cent higher than last year on the back of continued upward momentum in the economic environment in the US, Europe and the mainland - Hong Kong's top export destinations.

"The November figure is good in a sense that it reverses the traditional low season in winter," said Hang Seng Bank economist Ryan Lam. "The US appears to be in better shape, but there is a question mark on whether the recovery will continue next year."

A government spokesman said Hong Kong's external trade has been on the recovery path in recent months despite a higher base of comparison last year.

He cautioned that there was still uncertainty over the US Federal Reserve's monetary policy, with Fed chairman Ben Bernanke making it clear recently that the bond buying programme would be tapered from next month. That indicates the United States is moving away from the cycle of quantitative easing to a period of interest rate rises and inflation.

"The uneven recovery of the euro-zone economy and slower growth in some major emerging markets are also areas to watch," he said.

In the first 11 months of the year, exports from Hong Kong climbed 4 per cent. Last month, exports to the mainland grew 3.7 per cent and those to the US by 2 per cent. Re-exports, which accounted for 98 per cent of Hong Kong's total exports, jumped 6 per cent to HK$320.9 billion last month.

With a 10.4 per cent fall in domestic exports and a 5.2 per cent rise in imports, Hong Kong saw a trade deficit of HK$44.6 billion.

Strong export growth was recorded in telecommunications and sound recording equipment last month.

The Trade Development Council forecast Hong Kong trade would grow 5.5 per cent next year, compared with an estimated 3.3 per cent rise this year.