That dollar amount reflects a 22.2% increase since 2017 and a 21.9% gain from 2020 to 2021.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2021, the Hong Kong dollar has appreciated by 0.3% against the US dollar since 2017 but weakened by -0.2% from 2020 to 2021. Hong Kong’s weaker local currency makes exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
Hong Kong’s most valuable exported products in 2021 were electronic integrated circuits and microassemblies, phone devices including smartphones, computer parts or accessories, gold, solar power diodes or semi-conductors, unmounted diamonds, printed circuits, electrical converters or power units, and television, radio or radar device parts. Combined, those products represent about two-thirds (67.1%) of Hong Kong’s worldwide exports.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 84.5% of products exported from Hong Kong were bought by importers in: mainland China (59.8% of the global total), United States of America (6%), Taiwan (2.8%), India (2.6%), Japan (2.3%), Vietnam (2%), Singapore (1.6%), Netherlands (1.5%), South Korea (1.5%), United Kingdom (1.5%), United Arab Emirates (1.5%) and Thailand (also 1.5%).
From a continental perspective, 80.4% of Hong Kong’s exports by value were delivered to fellow Asian countries while 9.8% were sold to importers in Europe. Hong Kong shipped another 7.1% worth of goods to North America.
Smaller percentages went to Latin America (1%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, Africa (0.9%) then Oceania led by Australia (0.8%).
Given Hong Kong’s population of 7.5 million people, its total $672 billion in 2021 exports translates to roughly $90,000 for every resident in the Chinese administrative territory. That per-capita metric is higher than the average $73,800 for 2020.
Hong Kong’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Hong Kong global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Hong Kong.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: US$395.5 billion (58.8% of total exports)
- Machinery including computers: $95.1 billion (14.1%)
- Gems, precious metals: $71.9 billion (10.7%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $20.1 billion (3%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $9.3 billion (1.4%)
- Clocks, watches including parts: $7.7 billion (1.1%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: $5.6 billion (0.8%)
- Toys, games: $5.6 billion (0.8%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $4.4 billion (0.7%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $3.8 billion (0.6%)
Hong Kong’s top 10 export categories above accounted for 92.1% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Clocks and watches including parts represents the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 28.8% from 2020 to 2021.
In second place for improving export sales was machinery including computers via a 27.2% gain.
Hong Kong’s shipments of electrical machinery and equipment posted the third-fastest gain thanks to a 26.9% gain in value.
The most modest year-over-year increase among Hong Kong’s top 10 export categories belongs to Hong Kong’s exports of gems and precious metals via a 1.9% uptick.
From the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level, Hong Kong’s most valuable exported products are electronic circuits and microassemblies (31.4% of its total) trailed by phone devices including smartphones (11.4%). Other top exported goods from Hong Kong include computer parts or accessories (5.1%), computers including optical readers (4.7%), gold (4.6%), solar power diodes and semi-conductors (2.7%), unmounted diamonds (2.1%), printed circuits (1.7%), electrical converters and power units (also 1.7%) then television, radio or radar device parts (1.6%).
Products Generating Greatest Trade Surpluses for Hong Kong
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 represent 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.
- Machinery including computers: US$12.4 billion (Up by 64.8% since 2020)
- Toys, games: $1.2 billion (Up by 16.4%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $998.3 million (Up by 16.3%)
- Glass: $904.2 million (Up by 13%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $484.7 million (Down by -18.8%)
- Books, newspapers, pictures: $419.1 million (Up by 16%)
- Copper: $415.9 million (Up by 64.8%)
- Special woven/tufted fabric, embroidery: $395.8 million (Up by 30.4%)
- Other chemical goods: $312.4 million (Down by -15.7%)
- Other base metal goods: $144.1 million (Down by -12.4%)
Hong Kong had highly positive net exports in the international trade of machinery including computers in 2021, particularly gold. In turn, these cashflows indicate Hong Kong’s strong competitive advantages under the machinery including computers product category.
Products Causing Greatest Trade Deficits for Hong Kong
Overall, Hong Kong incurred a -$5.2 billion trade deficit for 2021, reversing a $15.8 billion surplus one year earlier in 2020.
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 spending on foreign products by importers in Hong Kong.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$10.7 billion (Up by 27.8% since 2020)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$7.9 billion (Down by -21.6%)
- Gems, precious metals: -$5.2 billion (Reversing a $15.8 billion surplus in 2020)
- Meat: -$4.4 billion (Down by -10.4%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: -$3.2 billion (Down by -12%)
- Fish: -$2.8 billion (Up by 22.3%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: -$2.1 billion (Up by 16.3%)
- Vehicles: -$2.1 billion (Up by 18%)
- Fruits, nuts: -$1.7 billion (Up by 35.6%)
- Collector items, art, antiques: -$1.6 billion (Up by 12.6%)
Hong Kong has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits notably for refined petroleum oils, petroleum gas and electricity under the mineral fuels including oil category.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Hong Kong’s competitive disadvantages in the international energy market, but also represent key opportunities for Hong Kong to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.
Major Hong Kong Export Companies
Fifty-eight corporations based in Hong Kong ranked on the Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of the major Hong Kong companies that Forbes included.
- Belle International Holdings (clothing, footwear)
- China Agri-Industries (diversified chemicals)
- China Mengniu Dairy (food processing)
- Chow Tai Fook Jewellery (clothing accessories)
- Citic Pacific (iron, steel)
- CNOOC (oil, gas)
- Lenovo Group (computer hardware)
- Michael Kors Holdings (clothing accessories)
- TPV Technology (computer storage devices)
- ZTE (communications equipment)
According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following are smaller exporting firms working out of 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)
In macroeconomic terms, Hong Kong’s total exported goods represent 137.5% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($488.7 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 137.5% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2021 compares to 116.7% one year earlier. Those percentages suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Hong Kong’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Hong Kong’s unemployment rate was 5.637% at October 2021, down from an average 5.828% one year earlier in 2020 according to the International Monetary Fund.
Note that Hong Kong is a trade hub so that its exports metrics include a significant amount of re-exporting activity.
As a Special Administrative “Region” of China, Hong Kong serves as its own capital city.
See also China’s Top 10 Imports, China’s Top Trading Partners, Top Chinese Trade Balances, China’s Top 10 Major Export Companies, Hong Kong’s Top Trading Partners and Hong Kong’s Top 10 Imports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on April 3, 2022
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 3, 2022
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (China P.R. Hong Kong Domestic Currency per U.S. dollar, period average)
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on April 3, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on April 3, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 3, 2022
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on April 3, 2022
Wikipedia, Hong Kong. Accessed on April 3, 2022
Wikipedia, List of companies of Hong Kong. Accessed on April 3, 2022
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on April 3, 2022
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on April 3, 2022