External merchandise trade statistics for January 2013
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     The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released today (February 25) the external merchandise trade statistics for January 2013. In January 2013, the values of Hong Kong's total exports and imports of goods both recorded year-on-year increases, at 17.6% and 23.9% respectively.

     In January 2013, the value of total exports of goods (comprising re-exports and domestic exports) increased by 17.6% over a year earlier to $304.8 billion, after a year-on-year increase of 14.4% in December 2012. Within this total, the value of re-exports increased by 17.5% to $300.3 billion in January 2013, while the value of domestic exports increased by 21.7% to $4.5 billion. Concurrently, the value of imports of goods increased by 23.9% over a year earlier to $332.3 billion in January 2013, after a year-on-year increase of 11.9% in December 2012. A visible trade deficit of $27.5 billion, equivalent to 8.3% of the value of imports of goods, was recorded in January 2013.

     Comparing the three-month period ending January 2013 with the preceding three months on a seasonally adjusted basis, the value of total exports of goods rose by 8.6%. Within this total, the value of re-exports increased by 8.8%, whereas the value of domestic exports went down by 1.6%. Meanwhile, the value of imports of goods increased by 4.3%.

Analysis by country/territory

     Comparing January 2013 with January 2012, total exports to Asia as a whole grew by 25.2%. In this region, double-digit increases were registered in the values of total exports to some major destinations, in particular Taiwan (+59.0%), Singapore (+30.4%), Vietnam (+29.9%) and the mainland of China (the Mainland) (+29.0%). On the other hand, decreases were recorded in the values of total exports to Malaysia (-8.2%) and Indonesia (-2.6%).

     Apart from destinations in Asia, increases were also registered in the values of total exports to some major destinations in other regions, in particular Germany (+2.2%) and the United Kingdom (+0.5%). Concurrently, a decrease was registered in the value of total exports to the USA (-0.9%).

     Over the same period of comparison, significant increases were registered in the values of imports from most major suppliers, in particular the Mainland (+34.2%), Taiwan (+32.7%), Thailand (+31.1%), Singapore (+27.9%), India (+27.2%) and the USA (+20.6%).

     Comparing the three months ending January 2013 with the three months ending January 2012, year-on-year increases were registered in the values of total exports to most major destinations, in particular the Mainland (+21.6%), Taiwan (+20.0%), Singapore (+12.9%) and Japan (+10.4%). However, year-on-year decreases were registered in the values of total exports to India (-8.0%) and Germany (-0.3%).

     Over the same period of comparison, year-on-year increases were registered in the values of imports from some major suppliers, in particular Thailand (+44.4%), the Mainland (+24.7%) and Taiwan (+10.3%). On the other hand, year-on-year decreases were registered in the values of imports from Switzerland (-4.4%), the USA (-3.9%) and Malaysia (-3.8%).

Analysis by major commodity

     Comparing January 2013 with January 2012, increases were registered in the values of total exports of most principal commodity divisions, in particular "electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof" (by $15.8 billion or 23.6%), "telecommunications and sound recording and reproducing apparatus and equipment" (by $12.1 billion or 25.0%) and "miscellaneous manufactured articles (mainly baby carriages, toys, games and sporting goods)" (by $2.8 billion or 15.3%).

     Over the same period of comparison, increases were registered in the values of imports of all principal commodity divisions, in particular "electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof" (by $24.3 billion or 39.3%), "telecommunications and sound recording and reproducing apparatus and equipment" (by $10.0 billion or 21.3%) and "office machines and automatic data processing machines" (by $5.2 billion or 17.3%).

     Comparing the three months ending January 2013 with the three months ending January 2012, year-on-year increases were registered in the values of total exports of most principal commodity divisions, in particular "telecommunications and sound recording and reproducing apparatus and equipment" (by $43.8 billion or 32.7%), "office machines and automatic data processing machines" (by $24.1 billion or 27.4%) and "electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof" (by $20.8 billion or 9.1%).

     Over the same period of comparison, year-on-year increases were registered in the values of imports of most principal commodity divisions, in particular "telecommunications and sound recording and reproducing apparatus and equipment" (by $41.1 billion or 29.8%), "electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof" (by $34.8 billion or 14.6%) and "office machines and automatic data processing machines" (by $27.2 billion or 31.7%).

Commentary

     A Government spokesman noted that merchandise exports sustained a notable year-on-year growth in January 2013, especially across the Asian markets. Exports to the US and EU markets were however lacklustre. Moreover, the notable growth in January was partly boosted by the different timing of the Chinese New Year, which fell in January last year but in February this year. It would thus be more meaningful to analyse the trade figures for January and February combined for a clearer picture of the underlying trend.

     The spokesman commented further that looking ahead, the firmer momentum of the Mainland economy should benefit the intra-regional trade flows, thereby rendering some support to Hong Kong's external trade. Nonetheless, the external environment is still susceptible to uncertainties posed by the subpar economic growth and fragile fundamentals of the US and the EU, to which we need to stay vigilant.

Further information

     Table 1 at the annex presents the analysis of external merchandise trade statistics for January 2013. Table 2 presents the original monthly trade statistics from January 2010 to January 2013, and Table 3 gives the seasonally adjusted series for the same period.

     The values of total exports of goods to ten main destinations for January 2013 are shown in Table 4, whereas the values of imports of goods from ten main suppliers are given in Table 5.

     Table 6 and 7 show the values of total exports and imports of ten principal commodity divisions for January 2013.

     All the merchandise trade statistics described here are measured at current prices and no account has been taken of changes in prices between the periods of comparison. A separate analysis of the volume and price movements of external merchandise trade for January 2013 will be released in mid-March 2013.

     The January 2013 issue of "Hong Kong External Merchandise Trade" contains detailed analysis on the performance of Hong Kong's external merchandise trade in January 2013. Detailed merchandise trade statistics analysed by commodity and by country/territory are published in the January 2013 issue of "Hong Kong Merchandise Trade Statistics". The two publications will be available in mid-March 2013. Users can download them free of charge at the website of the C&SD (www.censtatd.gov.hk/hkstat/sub/sp230.jsp).

     Enquiries on merchandise trade statistics may be directed to Trade Analysis Section (2) of the C&SD (Tel.: 2582 5042).

Ends/Monday, February 25, 2013
Issued at HKT 16:30

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