Hong Kong economic growth slows to 0.4% in January-March

Agence France-Presse
Hong Kong's economic growth slowed sharply in the first quarter of the year due to sluggish exports and a weak global economy

HONG KONG – Hong Kong’s economic growth slowed sharply in the first quarter of the year due to sluggish exports and a weak global economy, the government said Friday, May 11.

The economy grew 0.4% year-on-year in the first 3 months of the year compared with 3% in the 4th quarter of 2011, official figures showed.

Exports fell 5.7% in the January-March period compared with a year earlier.

It was the slowest year-on-year growth since the fourth quarter of 2009, and below the average forecast of 1.4% in a poll of seven economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires.

“Looking ahead, the downside risks in the external environment remain notable due mainly to the lingering eurozone sovereign debt crisis,” government economist Helen Chan said in a statement.

“The fragile fundamentals and fiscal restraints of the advanced economies, particularly the eurozone, would continue to weigh on their economic growth, with spillovers to the Asian economies,” she added.

Hong Kong’s economy was “poised to gradually regain momentum in the coming quarters” due to improved export orders, better business sentiment and resilient domestic demand.

Finance Secretary John Tsang warned in February that the economy could shrink this quarter due to weak exports to crisis-hit Europe.

The government maintains its forecast for growth of 1% to3% for the year, down from 5% in 2011. – Agence France-Presse