Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database, Hong Kong’s total Gross Domestic Product amounted to $414.5 billion in 2015.
From a continental perspective, 77.2% of Hong Kong exports by value are delivered to other Asian countries while 9.9% are sold to North American importers. Hong Kong ships another 9.7% to Europe but just 0.9% to customers in Africa.
Given Hong Kong’s population of 7.1 million people, its total $498.6 billion in 2015 exports translates to roughly $69,800 for every resident in that country.
Hong Kong’s unemployment rate was 3.3% as of January 2016, according to Trading Economics.
Hong Kong’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Hong Kong global shipments during 2015. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Hong Kong.
- Electronic equipment: US$248.2 billion (49.8% of total exports)
- Gems, precious metals: $70.6 billion (14.2%)
- Machines, engines, pumps: $64.7 billion (13%)
- Medical, technical equipment: $13.6 billion (2.7%)
- Plastics: $11.7 billion (2.3%)
- Knit or crochet clothing: $9.2 billion (1.8%)
- Clocks and watches: $8.8 billion (1.8%)
- Clothing (not knit or crochet): $8.3 billion (1.7%)
- Toys, games: $6.2 billion (1.2%)
- Leather, animal gut articles: $5.3 billion (1.1%)
Gems and precious metals were the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up 27.9% for the 5-year period starting in 2011 thanks mostly to improving sales of unwrought gold and jewelry.
Close behind for improving export sales was electronic equipment which rose 27.5%.
Hong Kong’s exported machinery posted the third-fastest gain in value at 2.4%.
All other top product categories declined in value from 2011 to 2015, led by a -46.5% cutback in toys and games exports.
The following types of Hong Kong product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports is the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Machines, engines, pumps: US$2.9 billion (Down by -508.3% since 2011)
- Knit or crochet clothing: $1.8 billion (Down by -49.2%)
- Toys, games: $1.7 billion (Down by -2%)
- Clothing (not knit or crochet): $1.6 billion (Down by -53.6%)
- Books, newspapers, pictures: $554.8 million (Down by -4.5%)
- Special woven/tufted fabric: $433.5 million (Up by 54.5%)
- Glass: $395.2 million (Down by -360%)
- Plastics: $387.5 million (Down by -185.7%)
- Other base metal goods: $297.8 million (Down by -24.3%)
- Other manufactured products: $297.4 million (Up by 53.9%)
Hong Kong has highly positive net exports in the international trade of machines including computers. In turn, these cashflows indicate Hong Kong’s strong competitive advantages under the machinery product category.
Below are exports from Hong Kong that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Hong Kong’s goods trail Hong Kong importer spending on foreign products.
- Electronic equipment: -US$16.9 billion (Up by 52.1% since 2011)
- Oil: -$11.4 billion (Down by -36.1%)
- Vehicles: -$3.4 billion (Up by 32.5%)
- Meat: -$3.3 billion (Down by -2.7%)
- Fish: -$2.4 billion (Down by -4.4%)
- Fruits, nuts: -$1.9 billion (Up by 51.9%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: -$1.8 billion (Up by 35.3%)
- Collector items, art, antiques: -$1.8 billion (Up by 84.1%)
- Beverages: -$1.6 billion (Down by -0.4%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: -$1.5 billion (Down by -15.4%)
Hong Kong has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for electronic equipment including consumer electronics.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Hong Kong’s competitive disadvantages in the international electronics market, but also represent key opportunities for Hong Kong to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.
Hong Kong Export Companies
Fifty-eight corporations based in Hong Kong ranked on the Forbes Global 2000 for 2015. Below is a sample of the major Hong Kong companies that Forbes included:
- CNOOC (oil, gas)
- Lenovo Group (computer hardware)
- Citic Pacific (iron, steel)
- Chow Tai Fook Jewellery (clothing accessories)
- ZTE (communications equipment)
- Michael Kors Holdings (clothing accessories)
- Belle International Holdings (clothing, footwear)
- China Mengniu Dairy (food processing)
- China Agri-Industries (diversified chemicals)
- TPV Technology (computer storage devices)
According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following are smaller exporting firms from Hong Kong:
- E Bo Toys (tricycles, other wheeled toys)
- Fine Ceramic (ceramic kitchenware/tableware)
- Forever Bright Lighting (chandeliers, light fittings)
- Perfect Electronic (burglar/fire alarms)
- Wieson Technologies (electric switches, protectors, conductors, connectors)
As a Special Administrative “Region” of China, Hong Kong has no capital city.
Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.
See also Hong Kong Top Import Partners, Fastest-Growing Hong Kong Export Products and Highest Value Hong Kong Export Products
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 5, 2016
The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 5, 2016
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 5, 2016
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 5, 2016
Wikipedia, List of companies of Hong Kong. Accessed on March 5, 2016
Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 5, 2016
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on March 5, 2016