External merchandise trade statistics for January 2018
External merchandise trade statistics for January 2018
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     The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released today (February 27) the external merchandise trade statistics for January 2018. In January 2018, the values of Hong Kong's total exports and imports of goods both recorded year-on-year increases, at 18.1% and 23.8% respectively.
 
     In January 2018, the value of total exports of goods increased by 18.1% over a year earlier to $350.0 billion, after a year-on-year increase of 6.0% in December 2017. Concurrently, the value of imports of goods increased by 23.8% over a year earlier to $382.0 billion in January 2018, after a year-on-year increase of 9.0% in December 2017. A visible trade deficit of $31.9 billion, equivalent to 8.4% of the value of imports of goods, was recorded in January 2018.
 
     Comparing the three-month period ending January 2018 with the preceding three months on a seasonally adjusted basis, the value of total exports of goods increased by 4.1%. Meanwhile, the value of imports of goods increased by 3.3%.
 
Analysis by country/territory
 
     Comparing January 2018 with January 2017, total exports to Asia as a whole grew by 24.2%. In this region, increases were registered in the values of total exports to some major destinations, in particular Taiwan (+40.0%), India (+39.4%), the mainland of China (the Mainland) (+29.0%), Vietnam (+23.0%) and Japan (+8.0%). On the other hand, decreases were recorded in the values of total exports to Korea (-9.1%) and Thailand (-3.6%).
 
     Apart from destinations in Asia, decreases were registered in the values of total exports to some major destinations in other regions, in particular the United Kingdom (-13.0%) and Germany (-2.8%). Concurrently, an increase was registered in the value of total exports to the USA (+1.0%).
 
     Over the same period of comparison, increases were registered in the values of imports from most major suppliers, in particular Malaysia (+126.2%), Switzerland (+88.2%), India (+35.8%), Korea (+28.7%), the USA (+24.7%), the Mainland (+20.6%) and Japan (+17.8%).
 
     Comparing the three months ending January 2018 with the three months ending January 2017, year-on-year increases were registered in the values of total exports to most major destinations, in particular India (+39.8%), Vietnam (+13.8%), the Mainland (+12.4%), Germany (+12.1%), Japan (+10.9%) and Taiwan (+8.3%).
 
     Over the same period of comparison, year-on-year increases were registered in the values of imports from most major suppliers, in particular Malaysia (+82.4%), Switzerland (+26.2%), India (+22.7%), Korea (+22.3%), Taiwan (+17.5%), Thailand (+11.5%) and the Mainland (+9.7%).
 
Analysis by major commodity
 
     Comparing January 2018 with January 2017, increases were registered in the values of total exports of some principal commodity divisions, in particular "electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof" (by $29.7 billion or 30.4%), "office machines and automatic data processing machines" (by $8.4 billion or 27.4%) and "non-metallic mineral manufactures" (by $5.2 billion or 43.8%).
 
     Over the same period of comparison, increases were registered in the values of imports of most principal commodity divisions, in particular "electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof" (by $28.6 billion or 26.6%), "office machines and automatic data processing machines" (by $8.3 billion or 36.7%) and "miscellaneous manufactured articles (mainly jewellery, goldsmiths' and silversmiths' wares)" (by $5.6 billion or 34.5%).
 
     Comparing the three months ending January 2018 with the three months ending January 2017, year-on-year increases were registered in the values of total exports of some principal commodity divisions, in particular "electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof" (by $56.1 billion or 16.7%), "non-metallic mineral manufactures" (by $16.3 billion or 41.0%) and "office machines and automatic data processing machines" (by $13.2 billion or 12.7%). However, a year-on-year decrease was registered in the value of total exports of "telecommunications and sound recording and reproducing apparatus and equipment" (by $2.9 billion or -1.3%).
 
     Over the same period of comparison, year-on-year increases were registered in the values of imports of most principal commodity divisions, in particular "electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof" (by $65.7 billion or 17.8%), "office machines and automatic data processing machines" (by $16.4 billion or 19.0%) and "non-metallic mineral manufactures" (by $11.2 billion or 27.4%). However, a year-on-year decrease was registered in the value of imports of "articles of apparel and clothing accessories" (by $0.5 billion or -1.8%).
 
Commentary
 
     A Government spokesman noted that merchandise exports surged in January 2018 over a year earlier amid strengthening global demand. However, trade figures for January were distorted by the difference in timing of the Lunar New Year, which fell in mid-February this year but in late January last year. It would thus be more meaningful to analyse the trade figures for January and February combined, when available, for a clearer picture of the underlying growth momentum.
 
     The spokesman commented further that, looking ahead, the solid expansion of the global economy should continue to be supportive of Hong Kong's exports in the near term. However, the trading environment is still subject to various uncertainties, including continued US monetary policy normalisation amid a complicated global monetary environment, potential rise in trade protectionism in major economies and heightened geopolitical tensions in various regions. The Government will continue to monitor the developments closely.
 
Further information
 
     Table 1 at the annex presents the analysis of external merchandise trade statistics for January 2018. Table 2 presents the original monthly trade statistics from January 2015 to January 2018, and Table 3 gives the seasonally adjusted series for the same period.
 
     The values of total exports of goods to 10 main destinations for January 2018 are shown in Table 4, whereas the values of imports of goods from 10 main suppliers are given in Table 5.
 
     Tables 6 and 7 show the values of total exports and imports of 10 principal commodity divisions for January 2018.
 
     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 2018 will be released in mid-March 2018.

     The January 2018 issue of "Hong Kong External Merchandise Trade" contains detailed analysis on the performance of Hong Kong's external merchandise trade in January 2018 and will be available in mid-March 2018. Users can download the publication 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 the Trade Analysis Section (2) of the C&SD (Tel: 2582 5042).
 
Ends/Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Issued at HKT 16:30
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