Hong Kong's visible trade deficit narrowed to $15 billion in March, declining almost 3.4 per cent as imports fell on weaker demand for foreign goods. The figure - equal to 12 per cent of imports - was down from a $22.6 billion deficit, or 18 per cent of imports, in March last year. Exports in March increased 2.9 per cent on last year as exports of locally made goods fell and the value of mainland re-exports rose. The value of exports in March rose to $108.6 billion. Re-exports of mainland-made goods increased 3.7 per cent to $94.1 billion. Domestic export value fell 2.1 per cent to $14.5 billion. Imports, at $123.6 billion, were 3.5 per cent down from last year. Bank of East Asia chief economist Shamus Mok Chung-yuk said the overall trade picture had improved compared with the first two months of this year. 'The decline in domestic exports has been cut sharply while re-exports are up, perhaps reflecting less export growth in the rest of Southeast Asia because of the economic turmoil,' he said. But Mr Mok said declining import levels in the long term could have a negative impact on the manufacturing of export goods. Overall, the value of Hong Kong's exports fell 1 per cent during the first quarter. Re-exports in the first quarter rose 0.1 per cent, while domestic exports fell 7.4 per cent. The value of imports decreased 5.1 per cent in the first quarter. A Government spokesman said, considering falling export prices, exports for the first quarter would have registered a higher year-on-year increase in volume terms.