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Hong Kong Exports Fell in March on Lower Asia Demand

Hong Kong’s exports fell 6.8 percent last month, missing estimates, as sales to the U.S. and some Asian nations dropped.

Overseas shipments in March declined to HK$262.4 billion ($33.8 billion) from a year earlier, the government said on its website today. That compared with a 14 percent gain in February and the median estimate of 4 percent growth in a Bloomberg News survey of 12 economists.

Hong Kong’s rebound from the global financial crisis is being tempered by slowing exports on “sluggish’” U.S. growth and debt turmoil in Europe, Financial Secretary John Tsang said in Hanoi yesterday. Stocks tumbled yesterday as weakness in China’s economy and political uncertainty in France and the Netherlands fueled concern about the outlook for world expansion.

“The short-term trade outlook remains sluggish,” Lily Lo, a Hong Kong-based economist at DBS Group Holdings Ltd., said before the announcement. Exports to Europe will continue to worsen, and the U.S. economy’s performance “is the wild card,” Lo said.

Tsang in February forecast Hong Kong’s economy to grow 1 percent to 3 percent this year. “At the end of the day, our performance will depend to some extent on the pace of recovery in the euro zone and the U.S.,” he said in a speech yesterday.

Imports decreased 4.7 percent in March from a year earlier to HK$306.3 billion, leaving a trade deficit of HK$43.9 billion.

“Merchandise exports relapsed to a rather noticeable year-on-year decline in March, mainly dragged by marked deceleration in exports to many major Asian markets, amid the continued lull” in the U.S. and European Union markets, the government said in the statement.

The data showed exports to mainland China, Taiwan and India fell from a year earlier.

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