Hong Kong’s top 10 exports accounted for 90.1% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database, Hong Kong’s total Gross Domestic Product amounted to $427.4 billion as of October 2016 up from $414.5 billion in 2015.
From a continental perspective, over three-quarters (76.3%) of Hong Kong exports by value are delivered to other Asian countries while 9.3% are sold to North American importers. Hong Kong ships another 11.5% worth to Europe and just 0.9% to customers in Africa.
Given Hong Kong’s population of 7.2 million people, its total $516.6 billion in 2016 exports translates to roughly $72,000 for every resident in that country.
Hong Kong’s unemployment rate was 3.3% as of January 2017 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 2016. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Hong Kong.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: US$259.5 billion (50.2% of total exports)
- Gems, precious metals: $84.2 billion (16.3%)
- Machinery including computers: $61.2 billion (11.8%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $15.5 billion (3%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $11 billion (2.1%)
- Clocks, watches including parts: $8.8 billion (1.7%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $7.8 billion (1.5%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $7.1 billion (1.4%)
- Toys, games: $5.7 billion (1.1%)
- Leather/animal gut articles: $4.7 billion (0.9%)
The gems and precious metals category placed first among the fastest-growing top products, up 213.9% for the 7-year period starting in 2009 thanks mostly to improving sales of gold, precious stones and pearls.
In second place was electrical machinery and equipment via an 82.1% gain, followed by clocks and watches including parts which rose 56.3% in value.
Exported toys and games led the decliners, down by -57.4% from 2009 to 2016. The mildest decrease was the -3.2% setback for exported plastics.
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.
- Gems, precious metals: US$17 billion (Up by 637% since 2009)
- Machinery including computers: $3.5 billion (Down by -214.8%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $1.3 billion (Down by -62.6%)
- Toys, games: $1.3 billion (Down by -23%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $1.1 billion (Down by -69.3%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $722.8 million (Down by -397.5%)
- Books, newspapers, pictures: $536.9 million (Down by -2.5%)
- Clocks , watches including parts: $514 million (Down by -11.7%)
- Special woven/tufted fabric, embroidery: $419.3 million (Up by 107.5%)
- Miscellaneous manufactured articles: $274.3 million (Down by -18.8%)
Hong Kong had highly positive net exports in the international trade of gems and precious metals in 2016, particularly gold. In turn, these cashflows indicate Hong Kong’s strong competitive advantages under the gems and precious metals 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.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -US$17.2 billion (Up by 333.3% since 2009)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$9.2 billion (Down by -15.4%)
- Meat: -$3.3 billion (Up by 58.5%)
- Vehicles : -$2.7 billion (Up by 121.1%)
- Fish: -$2.7 billion (Up by 37.2%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: -$2.5 billion (Up by 170%)
- Fruits, nuts: -$1.9 billion (Up by 81.7%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: -$1.8 billion (Up by 96.9%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: -$1.8 billion (Up by 84.1%)
- Collector items, art, antiques: -$1.3 billion (Up by 297.6%)
Hong Kong has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for electrical machinery and 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’s Top Trading Partners and Highest Value Hong Kong Export Products
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 1, 2017
The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 1, 2017
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 1, 2017
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 1, 2017
Wikipedia, List of companies of Hong Kong. Accessed on March 1, 2017
Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 1, 2017
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on March 5, 2016