Exports to Asia grow by 3.3%

April 25, 2008 - Hong Kong

The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released April 24 the external merchandise trade statistics for March 2008. In March 2008, the values of Hong Kong's total exports and imports of goods recorded year-on-year increases of 7.6% and 6.6% respectively.

In March 2008, the value of total exports of goods (comprising re-exports and domestic exports) increased by 7.6% over a year earlier to $222.5 billion, at the same rate of year-on-year increase as recorded in February 2008. Within this total, the value of re-exports increased by 7.9% to $215.0 billion in March 2008, whereas the value of domestic exports decreased by 1.0% to $7.5 billion.

Concurrently, the value of imports of goods increased by 6.6% over a year earlier to $250.7 billion in March 2008, after a year-on-year increase of 11.9% in February 2008. A visible trade deficit of $28.1 billion, equivalent to 11.2% of the value of imports of goods, was recorded in March 2008.

For the first quarter of 2008 as a whole, the value of total exports of goods rose by 10.5% over the same period in 2007. Within this total, the value of re-exports increased by 10.9%, while the value of domestic exports increased by 0.3%.

Concurrently, the value of imports of goods increased by 11.6%. A visible trade deficit of $51.5 billion, equivalent to 7.4% of the value of imports of goods, was recorded in the first quarter of 2008.

Comparing the first quarter of 2008 with the preceding quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis, the value of total exports of goods rose by 2.0%. Within this total, the value of re-exports increased by 2.1%, whereas the value of domestic exports went down by 0.6%. Meanwhile, the value of imports of goods remained virtually unchanged in the first quarter of 2008.

Analysis by country/territory:
Comparing March 2008 with March 2007, exports to Asia as a whole grew by 3.3%. In this region, strong increases were registered in the values of total exports to some major destinations, in particular India (+83.7%), Singapore (+28.5%), Vietnam (+25.0%), Malaysia (+17.9%) and Thailand (+11.8%).
Apart from destinations in Asia, significant increases were also registered in the values of total exports to some major destinations in other regions, in particular Germany (+25.9%), the United Kingdom (+17.7%) and the USA (+10.5%).

Concurrently, decreases were registered in the values of total exports to some major destinations, in particular Japan (-10.2%).

Over the same period of comparison, increases were registered in the values of imports from most major suppliers, in particular India (+33.2%), Thailand (+20.8%), Japan (+6.0%), Korea (+5.8%) and the mainland of China (the Mainland) (+5.8%).

For the first quarter of 2008 as a whole, distinct year-on-year increases were registered in the values of total exports to most major destinations, in particular India (+112.2%), Singapore (+20.7%), Germany (+17.5%), the Mainland (+11.1%) and the Netherlands (+8.8%).

Over the same period of comparison, significant year-on-year increases were registered in the values of imports from all major suppliers, in particular India (+50.6%), Thailand (+27.8%), Malaysia (+16.1%), the Philippines (+15.0%) and the Mainland (+10.2%).

Analysis by major commodity:
Comparing March 2008 with March 2007, significant increases were registered in the values of total exports of many principal commodity divisions, in particular "clothing" (by $2.4 billion or 21.6%).

Commentary:
The Government spokesman said that merchandise exports expanded further in March 2008, supported mainly by the robust growth in many emerging markets as well as the notable expansion of the EU market.

The spokesman noted that the US market unexpectedly rebounded to show a distinct growth in March over a year earlier. In contrast, the spokesman pointed out that total exports to the Mainland rose only marginally in value terms. Yet the spokesman also noted that for the first quarter as a whole, total exports to the Mainland still recorded a double-digit growth. The spokesman commented that more incoming data are needed to discern the trend.

The spokesman said that looking ahead, the external trading environment continues to be overshadowed by uncertainties arising from the weakness in the US economy and the unfolding global financial turbulence. The spokesman added that the tightening measures in the Mainland are also another area to watch out.