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Hong Kong Economy Shrinks Again With More Gloom to Come

The Asian financial hub’s economy contracted for the third straight quarter with leaders worried about the ‘markedly deteriorating external environment’

A general view of Two International Finance Centre (IFC), HSBC headquarters and Bank of China in Hong Kong, China, July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo
A general view of the Two International Finance Centre, HSBC headquarters and Bank of China in Hong Kong, China. Photo: Reuters


Hong Kong’s economy shrunk for the third consecutive quarter as rising global interest rates and a slump in trade took their toll.

The city’s economy contracted 4.5% in the third quarter from a year earlier, advance Hong Kong government data showed on Friday.

It was the third quarter running of year-on-year contraction for the Asian financial hub’s gross domestic product (GDP), and marked the worst contraction since the second quarter of 2020.


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The decline widened from 1.3% in the second quarter. The government also revised down its full-year growth forecast to minus 3.2%, from between 0.5% and minus 0.5%, citing a deteriorating global growth outlook.

“Looking forward, the markedly deteriorating external environment will continue to pose immense pressure on Hong Kong’s export performance,” a government spokesman said in a statement, adding that geopolitical tensions and uncertainties over Covid-19 will add downside risks.

“The relaxed testing and quarantine arrangements for incoming visitors should provide some support to exports of services,” the spokesman said.

On a quarterly basis, the economy contracted by a seasonally adjusted 2.6% in the July-September period.

While Hong Kong has relaxed social distancing measures put in place to curb Covid-19 infections, the border with mainland China has been largely closed since early 2020, choking off mainland tourism spending, a key driver of consumer growth.

The city is also facing headwinds from high inflationary pressure and aggressive monetary tightening in advanced economies.


Hong Kong US Exports Decline

Cases of negative equity in Hong Kong’s residential mortgage loans registered a near nine-fold increase in the third quarter from the previous one, with a fall in house prices accelerating during the period.

“[Hong Kong’s] economic outlook remains cloudy on all fronts if the border remains partially opened in the fourth quarter,” said Samuel Tse, an economist at DBS Bank.

External trade will continue to face pressure, he added.

In September, the volume of Hong Kong’s total exports of goods decreased by 15.3% from a year ago, with total export volume to the United States recording a year-on-year decline of 30.7%, and down 16.2% to the mainland China.

Writing in a blog post on Sunday, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said the economic outlook was “hardly optimistic”, but added the momentum of economic recovery would gradually strengthen if the city’s Covid situation remained under control and external activities resumed.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara


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Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.


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