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Merchandise Trade

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. 

In the seasonally adjusted merchandise trade statistics series, seasonal effects have been removed statistically to enable more meaningful shorter-term comparison to be made. When the year-on-year changes of the monthly figures in the original trade statistics series and the change of the latest 3-month period over the preceding 3-month period in the seasonally adjusted trade statistics series are analysed together, the possible variations in trend of external trade performance can be more clearly discerned.

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.
 

Feature Articles

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Release Date
(Latest in the series)
    • Title
      • Release Date
      • Abstract
        Hong Kong Harmonized System (HKHS), used principally for import and export declaration purpose, has undergone major updating since 1 January 2017. Import/export declarations for shipments on or after 1 January 2017 must be completed using commodity codes and units of quantity in accordance with the 2017 ...
    • Title
      • Release Date
      • Abstract
        Hong Kong Harmonized System (HKHS), used principally for import and export declaration purpose, has undergone major updating since 1 January 2012. Import/export declarations for shipments on or after 1 January 2012 must be completed using commodity codes and units of quantity in accordance with the ...
    • Title
      • Release Date
      • Abstract

        Road Cargo System (ROCARS) is an information technology system newly developed by the Customs and Excise Department for the customs clearance of road cargo. Under ROCARS, new functions of Data Inheritance (DI) are introduced. DI refers to the re-use of common data items in ROCARS for the preparation ...

    • Title
      • Release Date
      • Abstract
        The monthly specification price survey of imports and exports collects price data for compiling specification import and export price indices. These indices are incorporated into the unit value index system of trade statistics to provide a more precise and reliable measurement of price movements in external ...
    • Title
      • Release Date
      • Abstract
        In order to maintain Hong Kong's competitive edge in international trade, the Government started to plan for implementing electronic submission service for trade-related documents in 1992. Electronic submission can improve the timeliness and accuracy of data transfer, bring forth manpower resource saving ...
    • Title
      • Release Date
      • Abstract
        Hong Kong Harmonized System (HKHS), used principally for import and export declaration purpose, has undergone major updating since 1 January 2002. As from 1 January 2002, all importers and exporters should use commodity codes and units of quantity in accordance with the 2002 Edition of the HKHS when ...

References on Concepts and Methods

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Statistical Classifications

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Glossary of Terms

Term
Definition
Domestic export value
Domestic exports are f.o.b. (free-on-board) valued.
Domestic exports of goods
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.
Domestic exports statistics classified by industrial origin
Domestic exports statistics 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.
Exports of goods to the mainland of China for outward processing
Exports of goods to the mainland of China for outward processing refer to raw materials or semi-manufactures exported from or through Hong Kong to the mainland of China for processing with a contractual arrangement for subsequent re-importation of the processed goods into Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Standard Industrial Classification (HSIC)
Hong Kong Standard Industrial Classification (HSIC) is a statistical classification framework for classifying economic units into industry classes based on their major activities.
Hong Kong's external merchandise trade statistics
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.
Import value
Imports are c.i.f. (cost, insurance, freight) valued.
Imports of goods
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.
Imports of goods from the mainland of China related to outward processing
Imports of goods from the mainland of China related to outward processing refer to processed goods imported to Hong Kong from the mainland of China of which all or part of the raw materials or semi-manufactures have been under contractual arrangement exported from or through Hong Kong to the mainland of China for processing.
Quantum index
The quantum index measures changes in the volume of external merchandise trade. In compiling the quantum index for a particular year, volume estimates revalued at preceding year prices are first produced by deflating the current trade values at sub-classes levels by the corresponding unit value indices. The volume estimate of trade aggregates for that year is then obtained by aggregating the volume estimates of sub-classes revalued at preceding year prices. The short-term volume index of trade aggregates for that particular year is then calculated by dividing the volume estimate of trade aggregate for that year by the corresponding trade value for the preceding year. Short-term volume indices for other years are compiled in a similar manner. This results in pairs of short-term volume indices for trade aggregates and its sub-classes which measure the year-to-year movements in volume terms in trade aggregates and its sub-classes. The preceding-year weighted short-term volume indices for other years are then chain linked to a selected reference year in order to obtain a continuous time series of the chain volume indices of trade aggregates and its sub-classes.
Re-export value
Re-exports are f.o.b. (free-on-board) valued.
Re-exports of goods
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.
Re-exports of goods of the mainland of China origin to other places involving outward processing in the mainland of China
Re-exports of goods of the mainland of China origin to other places involving outward processing in the mainland of China refer to processed goods re-exported through Hong Kong of which all or part of the raw materials or semi-manufactures have been exported from or through Hong Kong to the mainland of China for processing with a contractual arrangement for subsequent re-importation of the processed goods into Hong Kong.
Retained imports of goods
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.
Total exports of goods
Total exports of goods comprise domestic exports and re-exports.
Total merchandise trade
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.
Unit value index
The unit value index measures changes in the price of external merchandise trade. It is compiled from unit values in trade statistics, supplemented by product specification price data from an import/export price survey. The unit value index is obtained by first computing the price relative in the current period over that in the previous year, and then using the trade values in the previous year as weights to aggregate the price relatives of different commodity items. The result, being an index with the previous year as base, is linked to a selected reference year by the method of chaining.
Unit value of a commodity item
The unit value of a commodity item is the average value obtained by dividing its total value by its corresponding quantity. Unit values are subject to the effect of changes over time in quality, product mix and markets or sources of supply for a commodity item in addition to pure price changes. To supplement the unit values from trade statistics, an import/export price survey is conducted to obtain the import or export prices of specified commodity items for inclusion in compiling the Unit Value Index.
Value index
The value index measures changes in the value of external merchandise trade. It is the ratio, expressed in index form by multiplying by 100, of the value of an aggregation of trade in the current period to that of the same aggregation of trade in the reference year.