Hong Kong export shrinks due to trade war

Government statistics show that Hong Kong’s exports tumbled 5.7 per cent in July year on year amid the deepening US-China trade war.

Figures published by the Census and Statistics Department of Hong Kong showed that exports shrank to HKD338.6 billion (US$43 billion) while imports fell 8.7 per cent, to HKD370.8 billion, compared with the same month last year, resulting in a trade deficit of HKD32.2 billion in July.

A Hong Kong government spokesman said July’s performance was affected by a softening of global economic growth and US-China trade tensions, the SCMP reported.

“In the face of the difficult external environment and the further escalation of US-mainland trade tensions in September, Hong Kong’s near-term export performance should remain sluggish or may even weaken further,” the government spokesman warned.

President of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Small and Medium Business, Joe Chau Kwok-ming, said the city’s exports would keep rolling downhill during the rest of the year.

“I am pessimistic about the coming months,” he said. “The trade row has got worse and worse in the past week and tariffs are getting higher and higher.”

Mr Chau said US importers bargained hard with Hong Kong exporters operating across the border especially as the yuan had sharply weakened against the US dollar.

Although the Hong Kong government announced earlier this month it would offer relief measures to businesses and residents, Mr Chau said these would provide only short-term support.

“The measures may quench the thirst immediately and temporarily,” he said. “Companies need time to open up new markets, which may take at least one or two years.”

In the first seven months, Hong Kong exports shrank 3.9 per cent while imports decreased 5.1 per cent year on year.

In July, Hong Kong exports to the US dropped 10.3 per cent, fell 13 per cent to Germany and 5.5 per cent to Asian markets compared with the same month last year.