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Hong Kong Trade Deficit Widens In January

Hong Kong's trade deficit increased in January, amid a fall in both exports and imports, data from the Census and Statistics Department showed on Monday.

The trade deficit widened to HK$30.595 billion in January from HK$10.299 billion in the same month last year. In December, the trade deficit was HK$32.497 billion.

Exports fell 22.7 percent annually in January after a 3.3 percent rise in the previous month.

Imports decreased 16.4 percent in January after a 1.9 percent decline in the previous month.

On a monthly basis, exports and imports dropped 23.3 percent and 21.8 percent, respectively, in January.

"Merchandise exports registered a visible year-on-year decline in January 2020, partly distorted by the difference in timing of the Lunar New Year, which fell in late January this year but in early February last year," a government spokesman said.

Hence, it would be more meaningful to analyse the trade figures for January and February combined for a clearer picture of the underlying situation, particularly the impact of the coronavirus infection in the region on external trade performance.

The government expects Hong Kong's merchandise exports to face a very austere external trading environment in the coming few months

"Looking ahead, despite some easing in US-Mainland trade tensions lately, the global economic recovery is still fragile and fraught with uncertainties, the spokesman said.

"Of particular concern is the threat of the novel coronavirus infection, which will heavily weigh on regional production and trading activities."

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