HONG KONG'S trade account with the world slipped $8 billion into the red during October. That was nearly double September's deficit, but well below the year's peak of $21 billion in February. But economists believe improved trade performance during the second half of the year will not be enough to save the territory from its first full-year goods and services deficit in 11 years. This means Hong Kong has been paying more for its imports than it has earned from its exports of goods and services. W I Carr economist Jan Lee said: 'This is not because savings are a lot lower, but because a higher level of investment in projects such as the new airport is putting a lot of pressure on imports.' A government spokesman attributed the rise in imports to a larger intake of raw materials and capital goods for construction and business. Consumer demand, down for eight consecutive months, is putting little pressure on the trade balance. There is also growing confidence improved export performances during the second half of the year will gain momentum next year. A senior economist with HSBC Asset Management, Connie Leung, said: 'China's proposed import tariff cuts and the continuing depreciation of the yen against the US dollar - to which the Hong Kong dollar is pegged - should help to improve the situation. On the strength of what we are seeing, it could improve.' According to the Government, imports rose by 13 per cent, or $15 billion, to $131 billion. Re-exports - goods manufactured outside the territory and shipped through it - led the export growth with a 12 per cent rise, or $11 billion, to $102 billion. Domestic exports fell $560 million, or 2.6 per cent, to $21 billion. During the 10 months to the end of October, the territory's trade deficit for goods rose to $122 billion. Mr Lee said: 'I expect a slow pick-up which will quicken by the middle of next year.'