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Trade Profile

In this page: Foreign Trade in Figures | Trade Compliance | Standards

 

Foreign Trade in Figures

Hong Kong's economy is considered a model of capitalism due to its commitment to free trade. Trade represents over 400% of GDP (World Bank). Hong Kong is among the world's top nine exporters and top seven importers.

Foreign trade continued to enjoy sustained growth in recent years and has been driven by the expansion of the Chinese economy. Structurally in deficit, the trade balance of Hong Kong has worsened due to the global economic instability that penalises exports. In 2016, the trade deficit (53 billion USD) decreased as exports decreased at a slower pace than imports. Hong Kong's trade balance in services is a net positive. Hong Kong's trade results were affected by outward processing activities in Guangdong, where most Hong Kong companies have located their manufacturing base.

The island's main trade partners are China (over half of its exports), the U.S. and Japan.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20112012201320142015
Imports of Goods (million USD) 510,855553,486621,417600,613559,427
Exports of Goods (million USD) 455,573492,907535,187524,065510,596
Imports of Services (million USD) 74,11776,46775,04673,79773,909
Exports of Services (million USD) 91,23298,425104,656106,566104,152
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 4.62.96.61.0-1.9
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 3.91.96.20.9-1.5
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 221.6224.4227.4219.3199.3
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 225.5225.6228.0219.4201.6
Trade Balance (million USD) -7,482-18,913-27,921-32,359-22,870
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 447.1450.0455.4438.8400.9

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) - 2016; World Bank - 2016

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2016
China 55.3%
United States 8.1%
India 3.0%
Japan 2.9%
United Kingdom 2.2%
Thailand 1.9%
Singapore 1.8%
Vietnam 1.8%
Switzerland 1.8%
Germany 1.7%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2016
China 44.7%
Japan 6.3%
South Korea 5.5%
United States 4.8%
Switzerland 3.3%
India 3.0%
Malaysia 3.0%
Singapore 2.2%
Thailand 2.1%
Philippines (the) 1.6%

Source: Comtrade, 2015

 

Main Products

516.6 bn USD of products exported in 2016
Electronic integrated circuits and microassemblies 19.3%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 10.5%
Electrical apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy, incl. line telephone sets with cordless handsets and telecommunication apparatus for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems; videophones; parts thereof 10.0%
Transmission apparatus for radio-telephony, radio-telegraphy, radio-broadcasting or television, whether or not incorporating reception apparatus or sound recording or reproducing apparatus; television cameras; still image video cameras and other video camera recorders; digital cameras 5.0%
Parts and accessories (other than covers, carrying cases and the like) suitable for use solely or principally with machines of heading 8469 to 8472, n.e.s. 4.0%
Automatic data processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, n.e.s. 3.9%
Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted or set (excl. unmounted stones for pick-up styluses, worked stones, suitable for use as parts of meters, measuring instruments or other articles of chapter 90) 3.0%
Diodes, transistors and similar semiconductor devices; photosensitive semiconductor devices, incl. photovoltaic cells whether or not assembled in modules or made-up into panels (excl. photovotaic generators); light emitting diodes; mounted piezo-electric crystals; parts thereof 2.3%
Parts suitable for use solely or principally with transmission and reception apparatus for radio-telephony, radio-telegraphy, radio-broadcasting, television, television cameras, still image video cameras and other video camera recorders, radar apparatus, radio navigational aid apparatus or radio remote control apparatus, n.e.s. 2.0%
Electrical transformers, static converters, e.g. rectifiers, and inductors; parts thereof 1.9%
547.1 bn USD of products imported in 2016
Electronic integrated circuits and microassemblies 21.6%
Electrical apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy, incl. line telephone sets with cordless handsets and telecommunication apparatus for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems; videophones; parts thereof 7.6%
Transmission apparatus for radio-telephony, radio-telegraphy, radio-broadcasting or television, whether or not incorporating reception apparatus or sound recording or reproducing apparatus; television cameras; still image video cameras and other video camera recorders; digital cameras 6.8%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 5.4%
Automatic data processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, n.e.s. 4.1%
Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted or set (excl. unmounted stones for pick-up styluses, worked stones, suitable for use as parts of meters, measuring instruments or other articles of chapter 90) 3.4%
Parts and accessories (other than covers, carrying cases and the like) suitable for use solely or principally with machines of heading 8469 to 8472, n.e.s. 2.7%
Diodes, transistors and similar semiconductor devices; photosensitive semiconductor devices, incl. photovoltaic cells whether or not assembled in modules or made-up into panels (excl. photovotaic generators); light emitting diodes; mounted piezo-electric crystals; parts thereof 2.5%
Articles of jewellery and parts thereof, of precious metal or of metal clad with precious metal (excl. articles > 100 years old) 2.1%
Printed circuits 1.6%

Source: Comtrade, 2015

 
 
 

Main Services

139.5 bn USD of services exported in 2014
Other business services
33.80%
Travel
28.44%
Transportation
23.29%
Financial services
10.12%
Communications services
1.69%
Insurance services
0.90%
Computer and information services
0.77%
Royalties and license fees
0.46%
Construction services
0.27%
Cultural and recreational services
0.19%
Government services
0.06%
63.5 bn USD of services imported in 2014
Travel
35.83%
Transportation
27.24%
Other business services
18.22%
Financial services
6.42%
Communications services
4.52%
Royalties and license fees
3.16%
Insurance services
2.35%
Computer and information services
1.28%
Construction services
0.56%
Government services
0.25%
Cultural and recreational services
0.16%

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Last Available Data

 

Exchange Rate System

Local Currency
Hong Kong Dollar (HKD)
Exchange Rate Regime
Exchange control is quite flexible in Hong-Kong. The Hong-Kong dollar is freely convertible. Its exchange rate vis-a-vis the USD is fixed in a band between 7.75 and 7.85 Hong Kong dollars for 1 US dollar. This rate is ensured by a "currency board" system which establishes an automatic link between the exchange reserves and the monetary base.
Level of Currency Instability
Low exchange risk.
 
 
Monetary Indicators 20112012201320142015
Hong Kong Dollar (HKD) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 7.787.767.767.757.75

Source: World Bank - 2016.

 
 

Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Main International Economic Cooperation
Member of APEC. Hong Kong has signed a free trade agreement (CEPA) with New Zealand.
Party of the ATA Convention on Temporary Admissions and Use of the Carnets
Yes

As a Reminder, the ATA is a System Allowing the Free Movement of Goods Across Frontiers and Their Temporary Admission Into a Customs Territory With Relief From Duties and Taxes. The Goods Are Covered By a Single Document Known as the ATA Carnet That is Secured By an International Guarantee System.
Look Up the Other Member Countries And Read the Web Pages of the World Customs Organization Devoted to the ATA Carnet.
Party of the TIR Convention
No

As a Reminder, the TIR Convention and its Transit Regime Contribute to the Facilitation of International Transport, Especially International Road Transport, Not Only in Europe and the Middle East, But Also in Other Parts of the World, Such as Africa and Latin America.
The UNCTAD Website Allows You to Read the TIR Convention, See the List of Member Countries And to Find Further Information.
Accompanying Documents For Imports
For almost all of its imports, Hong Kong requires only a commercial import declaration within 14 days of the shipment. If these goods are imported constantly and regularly from the same country and do not have a value of more than EUR 100, then by special arrangement it is possible to make a monthly declaration.

The commercial declaration is not needed and it is not necessary to inform the authorities beforehand for some products such as samples or aircraft parts meant for maintenance. The goods shipped to Hong Kong should be accompanied by the following documents needed for imports:
- Bill of lading, certificate of origin, commercial invoice, import license, insurance certificate
- Packing list, pre-shipment inspection, proforma Invoice
- Shipping company's certificate
- Shipper's export declaration (visit Census, Section III for further details on EEI, Electronic Export Information)
- There is no requirement or cost for the legalisation of documents, if needed

Free Zones
Hong Kong Port
For Further Information
Customs
HK Trade Development Council
Trade and Industry Department
Government of Hong Kong
Non Tariff Barriers
Despite Hong Kong's transfer of sovreignty from Britain back to China on 1 July 1997, the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong (HKSAR) has maintained its customs regulation. Thus, the territory of Hong Kong keeps its free port status and remains a customs area separate from the rest of China, preserving its participation in international bodies and its international trade agreements.

Import licenses are needed for the following products :
- Some chemical products defined in the Chemical Products Control Ordinance. The requests for license should be made at Controlled Chemicals Group of the Customs and Excise Department.
- Pharmaceutical Products: licenses should be requested from Trade licensing Branch Non-Textiles Licensing Section of the Trade Department.
- Live Animals: a prior license should be requested from Licensing Unit of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.
- Plants are also subjected to a license issued by the Plant and Pesticides Regulatory Division of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.
- Textiles: if they are not registered with the Textile Traders Registration Scheme, the importers should make a request for license at Non-Restrained Textiles, Trade Department.
- "Reserved Commodities" (rice, frozen meat, frozen poultry): import licenses issued by Reserved Commodities Unit of Trade Department, are only issued to companies registered with the Trade Department. In addition, imported goods should be accompanied by a health certificate issued by the country of origin.
- Meat and Poultry: import should be authorized by the Hygiene Division of the Department of Health.
- Telecommunication equipment is also subject to the control of Inspection and Licensing Subsection of the Office of the Telecommunications Authority.
- Import of vehicles.
- Alcoholic beverages.
- Tobacco.
- Petroleum products.

Licenses for these 4 categories are obtained from the Customs and Excise Department.

Assessment of Commercial Policy
The WTO pages dedicated to Hong Kong
Barriers of European Union
Health and phytosanitary barriers, according to the European Union.
Barriers registered by United States

Learn more about How to Export to Hong Kong on Globaltrade.net, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

 

Standards

National Standards Organisations
Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC)
Integration in the International Standards Network
International Standards Organisation(ISO),
International Electronic Commission (IEC).
Pacific Area Standards Congress (PAS)
APEC Subcommittee.
Obligation to Use Standards
Most of the standards are optional. Some of those which deal with health or safety are obligatory and are imposed by law or regulations. The following sixteen areas have special regulations, standards, and conformity assessment mechanisms: animals and plants (sanitary and phytosanitary), boilers and pressure vessels, building materials and construction, chemicals (pesticides), consumer goods, drugs and medical devices, electrical products, energy, environment, food, information and communications technology equipment and systems, lifts and escalators, radioactive substances and irradiating apparatus, shipping safety, toys and children's products, and transport equipment. For more information click here.

As per the OMC agreement on technical trade barriers, Hong Kong's policy is to use international standards as much as possible and align national standards with suitable international standards.
Assessment of the System of Standardization
Standardization ensures best quality of life: the standards can satisfy the requirements of the consumers and importers and be used as a guideline for a company which wants to sell quality products.
Online Consultation of Standards
List of different standards on the ITC website.
Certification Organisations
List of different organizations

 

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Last Updates: June 2017