Year-on-year, imports slipped 7 percent to HKD 391.2 billion in December 2018, dragged down by lower purchases of electrical machinery, apparatus & appliances, and electrical parts thereof (-13 percent); telecommunications and sound recording and reproducing apparatus and equipment (-11.3 percent) and non-metallic mineral manufactures (-13 percent). However, imports of office machines and automatic data processing machines rose (9 percent).
Among major trading partners, imports decreased from Taiwan (-29.6 percent), Korea (-25.4 percent), India (-24.3 percent), the Philippines (-19.2 percent), Japan (-12.7 percent), Thailand (-8.0 percent) and the Mainland (-4.2 percent). Concurrently, an increase was recorded in imports from Malaysia (+14.3 percent).
Meantime, exports fell 5.8 percent to HKD 339.9 billion, as sales declined mostly for non-metallic mineral manufactures (-41 percent); electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof (-5.7 percent) and office machines and automatic data processing machines (-5.3 percent). In contrast, shipments of power generating machinery and equipment jumped (48.5 percent).
External sales to Asia as a whole declined 7.8 percent, namely India (-35.9 percent), Vietnam (-15.7 percent), China (-8.7 percent), Korea (-4.5 percent) and Japan (-3.6 percent). On the other hand, increases were recorded in total exports to Singapore (+29.9 percent) and Thailand (+9.9 percent).
Considering full 2018 year, the trade shortfall widened to HKD 563.3 billion from HKD 481.1 billion, as imports surged 8.4 percent to HKD 4721 billion and exports advanced 7.3 percent to HKD 4158 billion.
"A Government spokesman noted that the value of merchandise exports showed an enlarged year-on-year decline in December 2018, as the moderation in global economic growth and the US-Mainland trade tensions increasingly weighed on the exports of many Asian economies. Nonetheless, thanks to the strong performance in the earlier part of the year, the value of merchandise exports rose notably by 7.3 percent for 2018 as a whole. The near-term outlook for merchandise trade is challenging amid moderating global economic growth and the uncertainty surrounding the US-Mainland trade relations. The Government will continue to monitor the situation closely."