Hong Kong’s exports jumped 18.4 percent last month from a year earlier, the biggest gain since 2006, after falling the most in half a century in January 2009.
Overseas shipments rose to HK$222.3 billion ($28.6 billion), the government said today on its Web site. Today’s number was distorted by the timing of a Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, held in January last year and February in 2010.
China’s economic rebound may bolster exports this year amid a “fragile” global recovery and weakness in the U.S. and European economies, Financial Secretary John Tsang said in his budget speech yesterday. Shipments to the mainland climbed 48.6 percent in January as exports to the U.S. and Europe declined even from the low levels of a year earlier, the government said.
“External demand is likely to recover gradually as the advanced economies rebound from the worst recession in decades,” Joanne Yim, Hong Kong-based chief economist at Hang Seng Bank Ltd., said before the announcement.
Yim forecasts an 8.6 percent gain in exports this year.
An export rebound helped Hong Kong’s economy grow 2.3 percent in the fourth quarter from the previous three months, the third straight expansion, the government said yesterday.
Shipments to U.S. Slide
Still, in January, the value of shipments to the U.S. fell 15.8 percent from a year earlier, along with a 24.6 percent drop in exports to Germany. For the United Kingdom, the decline was 18.2 percent, the government said today.
Imports rose 39.5 percent from a year earlier, the biggest increase since 1992, leaving a trade deficit of HK$29.5 billion, the government said.
Higher oil and commodity prices and a weak U.S. dollar are contributing to the deficit, which is a drag on the city’s economic growth, according to Kevin Lai, a Hong Kong-based economist at Daiwa Capital Markets. December’s deficit of HK$33.4 billion was a record.
Mainland China’s demand helped to revive trade across Asia in 2009, Hong Kong’s government said in a report yesterday, citing a rebound in the city’s exports to China, South Korea and Taiwan. Hong Kong’s trade “looks set for a further rebound in 2010, continuing the momentum in late 2009,” it said.
A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S, the world’s largest container line, aims to return to profit this year as the World Bank forecasts a 4.3 percent expansion in world trade volumes after a contraction in 2009 caused by the global financial crisis.
South Korea’s exports rose at the fastest pace in more than 20 years in January and Taiwan’s surged by the most in more than 30 years. Japan reported the biggest gain in almost three decades.
In January 2009, Hong Kong’s exports fell 21.8 percent from a year earlier.
--Editors: Paul Panckhurst, Joost Akkermans.
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