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External merchandise trade statistics cover movements of merchandise between Hong Kong and her trading partners, by land, air, water and by post. Movements of exempted articles, gold and specie are not included.
Hong Kong's external merchandise trade statistics are compiled based on information contained in import/export declarations. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is a separate customs territory, as stated in "The Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China". Import/export declaration is also required of Hong Kong's merchandise trade with the mainland of China, and statistics relating to this are included in Hong Kong's external merchandise trade statistics.
The trade declaration system in Hong Kong is mainly designed for collecting merchandise trade data for the compilation of statistics on aggregate exports and aggregate imports of merchandise trade. The statistics are primarily used for macroeconomic analysis, rather than for monitoring or tracking the imports and exports of commodities. Quality assurance procedures are in place; but the data may still be subject to errors, especially at the detailed 8-digit Harmonized System code level. Having said that, the overall impact on the aggregate trade statistics should still be negligible.
Imports of goods refer to goods which have been produced or manufactured in places outside the jurisdiction of Hong Kong and brought into Hong Kong for domestic use or for subsequent re-export as well as products of Hong Kong which are re-imported. Their values are recorded on c.i.f. (cost, insurance and freight) basis.
Retained imports of goods refer to those imported goods which are retained for use in Hong Kong rather than being re-exported to other places. The value of retained imports of goods is derived by subtracting the estimated import value of re-exports of goods from the value of imports of goods. The former is obtained by removing an estimated re-export margin from the value of re-exports of goods. The Census and Statistics Department regularly conducts a survey of re-export trade, based on which the rates of re-export margin for different categories of goods are estimated for deriving retained import statistics. Retained import statistics are subject to revision when the latest estimates on rates of re-export margin become available.
Domestic exports of goods refer to the natural produce of Hong Kong or the products of a manufacturing process in Hong Kong which has changed permanently the shape, nature, form or utility of the basic materials used in manufacture. Their values are recorded on f.o.b. (free-on-board) basis.
Re-exports of goods refer to products which have previously been imported into Hong Kong and which are re-exported without having undergone in Hong Kong a manufacturing process which has changed permanently the shape, nature, form or utility of the product. Their values are recorded on f.o.b. (free-on-board) basis.
Total exports of goods comprise domestic exports and re-exports.
Total merchandise trade refers to all the movements of merchandise between Hong Kong and her trading partners, by land, air, water and by post. It comprises imports, domestic exports and re-exports of goods.
Statistics on domestic exports of goods classified by industrial origin are derived by re-grouping the merchandise domestic export items originally grouped under the external trade classification system according to the industries in which these merchandise items are normally produced. Transactions in gold and specie are not included. Caution should be taken when referring to these domestic export statistics classified by industrial origin. There may be several intermediate processing stages in the production of certain merchandise domestic export items. In compiling the statistics, the total value of such an item has however been wholly related to the industry in which the item is finally produced. Moreover, the domestic export statistics of a particular industry may include secondary products which are produced by establishments of other industries.
The value index, unit value index and quantum index measure the changes in value, prices and volume of external merchandise trade respectively. In order to provide a better measure of the real growth of trade aggregates, a new series of trade index numbers compiled using the chain linking approach with annual re-weighting and re-referencing was released in March 2015 to replace the previous series compiled using the Laspeyres method with a fixed base year.
Seasonal adjustment is performed using the X-12 ARIMA method, which is a standard method used for removing seasonal effect from a data series statistically. Seasonally adjusted series may be revised as more data become available. For external merchandise trade figures, the seasonally adjusted series for the preceding three years are revised each year when the figures for January become available.
External merchandise trade statistics are not directly comparable with the figures of exports and imports of goods published under the framework of “National Income”, as the latter is compiled based on the change of ownership principle.
References on Concepts and Methods
Glossary of Terms