HK exports rise 11pc as demand picks up

Finance | Victor Zhong 27 Jan 2021

Hong Kong exports rose 11.7 percent year-on-year to HK$392.2 billion in December, and figures for the whole year saw only a fall of 1.5 percent. That beat estimates thanks to import demand recovery in major markets.

On the other hand, confidence among small and medium enterprises remains weak.

Imports rose by 14.1 percent in value over the 12 months to HK$437.9 billion in December.

A government spokesman said the value of merchandise exports posted double-digit growth in December as import demand in many major markets had revived.

"Exports to the mainland accelerated notably, and those to the United States and Europe also saw faster growth," he added. "Exports to many other major Asian markets showed improvement of varying degrees. Yet, dragged by the weak export performance in the first half of the year, the value of merchandise exports fell further by 1.5 percent for 2020 as a whole."

The year also saw imports fall by 3.3 percent from 2109. So a visible trade deficit of HK$342.2 billion - equivalent to 8 percent of the value of imported goods - was recorded in 2020.

Exports to the mainland rose by 17.5 percent and to the United States by 3.2 percent.

Meanwhile, small and medium enterprises' business confidence has been weakened in the first quarter due to the new wave of Covid-19, a survey by the Hong Kong Productivity Council shows. And the prediction is that sentiment is unlikely to recover until the second half.

The Standard Chartered Hong Kong SME Leading Business Index recorded an overall score of 32.4 in the projection for the first quarter of this year, down 5.1 against fourth-quarter 2020.

The survey in December saw responses from managements of 814 SMEs.

All five component sub-indices of the index were down too. Among them, the outlook for profit margins showed the most significant drop. Additionally, 38 percent of the SMEs expect an increase or unchanged turnover in the first quarter of this year - a decrease of 10 percent compared to the last quarter of 2020.

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