Hong Kong’s merchandise exports registered another year-on-year decline in value in April, dragged down by the weak global economy, rising U.S.-China trade tensions, and other external headwinds, according to the Census and Statistics Department.
Total exports in April decreased by 2.6% from a year earlier to HKD321.5 billion (US$40.9 billion), after a year-on-year decrease of 1.2% in March 2019.
Imports of goods also fell, decreasing by 5.5% from a year earlier to HKD356.6 billion in April, after a year-on-year decrease of 0.1% in March 2019. A trade deficit of HKD35.1 billion, equivalent to 9.8% of the value of imports of goods, was recorded in April 2019.
For the first four months of the year, total exports of goods dropped in value by 2.5% from the same period in 2018. Concurrently, imports decreased by 3.7%, leaving a trade deficit of HKD154.0 billion, equivalent to 11.0% of the value of imports of goods, in the first four months of 2019.
Comparing the three-month period ending April with the preceding three months on a seasonally adjusted basis, total exports of goods decreased by 1.1%, while imports decreased by 0.3%.
Total exports to Asia went down by 2.3% in April year-on-year. Decreases were registered in exports to some major destinations, in particular Taiwan (-24.4%), India (-15.3%), Japan (-12.5%), and Vietnam (-12.4%). Exports to the mainland of China also decreased by 1.3%. But increases were recorded in exports to Singapore (+32.1%) and the Philippines (+28.3%).
Decreases were registered in total exports to some major destinations in other regions, in particular the U.S. (-17.0%) and Germany (-4.4%). However, an increase was registered in exports to the United Kingdom (+2.3%).
Over the same period, decreases were registered in imports from most major suppliers, in particular Korea (-32.5%), India (-31.7%), Taiwan (-10.1%), Malaysia (-6.1%), and the U.S. (-6.0%). The value of imports from the mainland also decreased by 1.6%. Concurrently, an increase was recorded in imports from Thailand (+6.6%).
For the first four months of 2019, year-on-year decreases were registered in total exports to some major destinations, in particular India (-25.6%), Taiwan (-14.9%), the U.S. (-11.0%), Japan (-5.5%), and China (-5.2%). However, year-on-year increases were registered in total exports to Singapore (+21.3%) and the Netherlands (+11.2%).
A government spokesman said the decline in value of exports in April was attributed to the weaker performance of the global economy, trade tensions, and various other external risks. The weak export performance in recent months was likewise observed in many Asian economies.
“The near-term outlook for Hong Kong’s exports is subject to a high level of uncertainty. It will hinge, to a large extent, on how US-Mainland trade tensions will evolve,” said the spokesman.