1 June 2001
Steady Growth Anticipated(HKTDC Watch & Clock, Vol 02,2001)
Vol 2, 2001
INTERNATIONAL traders based in Hong Kong can look forward to sustained growth in merchandise and services exports throughout this year, predicts the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) chief economist Edward Leung.
In presenting a TDC report on Hong Kong's Trade Outlook for 2001, Leung forecast a rise in total merchandise exports of 7.5% in value, or 6.5% in volume.
Sustained, although perhaps modest, expansion in external demand and a higher base for comparison in 2000 are factors behind the prediction.
With a continued promising outlook for trade in goods, Hong Kong services exports are also expected to grow modestly. Leung anticipates reasonably favourable conditions in the world trading environment, with healthy, albeit slower, expansion in 2001.
"The US economy may be on the path of a soft landing while EU economic growth will remain relatively steady, with a moderating pace of expansion supported by concerted fiscal policies. Japan should experience moderate recovery, fuelled by increasing government expenditure and industrial investment," he says.
Leung cites sustained improvement, or stabilization, in the labour markets of these economies, which are Hong Kong's major markets. "The resulting steady consumption should translate into stable demand for imports, including those from Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland," he adds.
Another key dimension affecting the Hong Kong economy is the Chinese mainland's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO). Among the immediate benefits, mainland exports will have more secure access to international markets, notably to the US, which has granted permanent normal trade relations. Spurred by widespread tariff reductions, imports into the mainland, including those from Hong Kong, will also gain a boost.
Leung says Hong Kong's traditional role as a gateway to and from the Chinese mainland has evolved smoothly, a trend likely to continue.
Hong Kong manufacturers should benefit from an improved investment environment as the mainland continues amending its foreign trade and investment laws. In the longer term, they will gain from a largely open domestic market there.
Leung anticipates sustained demand for electronics, with Asian electronics exports continuing to grow, even if at a slower pace than in some recent years. The electronics industry is Hong Kong's largest foreign-exchange earner.
Since exports of Hong Kong services are more concentrated on Asian economies, notably the mainland, they are more vulnerable to regional performance. Nevertheless, China is expected to maintain its own healthy economic growth.
"Since Hong Kong services exports are predominantly trade-related, an export-led Asian economic expansion should underpin satisfactory performance of our services exports," Leung says.
The report also notes that political uncertainty in some Asian economies and the haphazard pace of financial or institutional reforms in the region do demand attention.
SIX major trade fairs organized by TDC received international acclaim for quality excellence from UFI, the Union des Foires Internationales (Union of International Trade Fairs), at its Ordinary General Assembly of the 67th UFI Congress in November.
UFI, an important organization for the global trade fair industry, has also granted full membership to TDC. The 67th UFI Congress took place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The TDC trade fairs voted as UFI-approved events are: the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair (each January), the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show (March), the Hong Kong Gifts & Houseware Fair (April), Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair (September), Hong Kong Electronics Fair (October) and Hong Kong Optical Fair (November).
Each year, these six UFI-approved fairs attract more than 8,500 exhibitors and 160,000 buyers. Half the buyers and many exhibitors come from overseas. In all the respective industries, these trade fairs play a leading role as one-stop sourcing opportunities in Asia.
"UFI exercises strict membership admission criteria. We are very happy our trade fairs were granted the UFI status, which is a label of quality. The granting of UFI membership to TDC means the quality of our trade fairs and the services provided to exhibitors and visitors are at high international standards," says TDC executive director Michael Sze.
Founded in 1925 in Milan, UFI has some 180 members (including fair/exhibition organizers, venue owners and associate members) who regularly arrange 550 UFI-approved exhibitions in 70 countries and 140 cities.
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