In February of 2019, sales shrank 6.9 percent year-on-year to HKD 228.7 billion, mainly due to lower sales of electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof (-8 percent); office machines and automatic data processing machines (-13.7 percent); and miscellaneous manufactured articles (mainly jewellery, goldsmiths' and silversmiths' wares) (-13 percent). However, an increase was registered in sales of telecommunications and sound recording and reproducing apparatus and equipment (3.8 percent). Shipments to Asia as a whole went down 7.8 percent, namely sales to India (-41.2 percent), Taiwan (-26.5 percent), Japan (-19.7 percent) and China (-5.3 percent). On the other hand, increases were seen in exports to Malaysia (14.3 percent), Vietnam (12.2 percent) and Singapore (11.1 percent). Apart from destinations in Asia, decreases were registered in shipments to the US (-20.5 percent) and Germany (-15 percent) while an increase was registered in exports to the United Kingdom (30.7 percent).
Imports fell 3.8 percent to HKD 277.5 billion, namely purchases of electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof (-7.5 percent); office machines and automatic data processing machines (-12.7 percent); and articles of apparel and clothing accessories (-21.6 percent). However, an increase was registered in the imports of non-metallic mineral manufactures (8.3 percent). Among major import partners, decreases were registered purchases from South Korea (-23.4 percent), Thailand (-15.4 percent), Malaysia (-12.1 percent), Switzerland (-11.3 percent) and China (-10.2 percent). Concurrently, increases were recorded in imports from Singapore (16.8 percent) and the US (14.9 percent).
A Government spokesman said that, similar to the situations in many other Asian economies, Hong Kong's exports remained weak in early 2019, dampened by easing global economic growth and the US-China trade tensions. In the near term, the external trading environment is likely to remain challenging. While the US-China trade negotiations have reportedly entered the final stage, there are still uncertainties about whether and when the two sides will reach a final agreement. Other external developments, including global growth moderation and Brexit, also warrant attention.