Hong Kong exported US$672 billion worth of goods around the world in 2021. That dollar amount reflects a 22.2% gain since 2017 and a 21.9% uptick from 2020 to 2021.
Hong Kong is a trading hub heavily involved in re-exporting. Even though it is a relatively small geographic entity, Hong Kong exports (or re-exports) 3.8% of all globally exported products based on available data from 2020.
The top 5 countries buying products exported from Hong Kong are mainland China, United States of America, Taiwan, India and Japan. Collectively, that quintet of leading customers accounted for almost three-quarters (73.5%) of Hong Kong’s total shipments by value during 2021.
Applying a continental lens, Hong Kong’s exports by value were delivered to fellow Asian trade partners 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%).
Hong Kong’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 25 of Hong Kong’s top trading partners in terms of exports sales. That is, countries that imported the most Hong Kong shipments by dollar value during 2021. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Hong Kong exports.
- China: US$401.9 billion (59.8% of Hong Kong’s total exports)
- United States: $40.2 billion (6%)
- Taiwan: $19 billion (2.8%)
- India: $17.5 billion (2.6%)
- Japan: $15.3 billion (2.3%)
- Vietnam: $13.4 billion (2%)
- Singapore: $10.6 billion (1.6%)
- Netherlands: $10.2 billion (1.5%)
- South Korea: $10.1 billion (1.5%)
- United Kingdom: $10.1 billion (1.5%)
- United Arab Emirates: $9.9 billion (1.5%)
- Thailand: $9.8 billion (1.5%)
- Germany: $9.5 billion (1.4%)
- Macao: $8.3 billion (1.2%)
- Switzerland: $6.2 billion (0.9%)
- Mexico: $5.4 billion (0.8%)
- Malaysia: $5.1 billion (0.8%)
- Russia: $5 billion (0.7%)
- France: $4.8 billion (0.7%)
- Australia: $4.7 billion (0.7%)
- Philippines: $4.6 billion (0.7%)
- Indonesia: $4.1 billion (0.6%)
- Italy: $3.7 billion (0.5%)
- Brazil: $2.5 billion (0.4%)
- Canada: $2.4 billion (0.4%)
Well over nine-tenths (94.4%) of revenues from Hong Kong’s exports in 2021 were from the above 25 trade partners.
The fastest increases in purchases of exports from Hong Kong from 2020 to 2021 belong to Macao (up 55.9%), Mexico (up 51.7%), South Korea (up 45.1%), Taiwan (up 44.4%), United Arab Emirates (up 39%), India (up 32.6%), Russia (up 32.5%) then mainland China (up 31.9%).
There were 3 year-over-year decliners namely Switzerland (down -58.7%), United Kingdom (down -44.7%) and Singapore (down -2.6%).
Countries Driving Hong Kong’s Greatest Trade Deficits
Hong Kong incurred an overall -$5.2 billion trade deficit for 2021, reversing a $15.8 billion surplus one year earlier in 2020.
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.
It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
Hong Kong incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries.
- Taiwan: -US$51.9 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2021)
- Singapore: -$43.6 billion
- South Korea: -$31.9 billion
- Japan: -$21.9 billion
- Malaysia: -$16.3 billion
- Philippines: -$7.5 billion
- Switzerland: -$7.2 billion
- Thailand: -$3.9 billion
- South Africa: -$1.83 billion
- Italy: -$1.77 billion
Among Hong Kong’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Hong Kong’s deficits with South Africa (up 92.3%), Singapore (up 43.6%) and Taiwan (up 27.3%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
In addition, Hong Kong went from an $8.1 billion surplus trading with Switzerland in 2020 to generating a -$7.2 billion deficit for 2021.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Hong Kong’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Hong Kong to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Countries Creating Hong Kong’s Greatest Trade Surpluses
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.
Hong Kong incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries.
- mainland China: Up by 59.9% (US$85.7 billion)
- United States of America: Up by -40.1% (US$10.2 billion)
- Netherlands: Up by 28.3% (US$8.1 billion)
- Macao: Up by 64.7% (US$7.3 billion)
- India: Up by 21.9% (US$7.1 billion)
- Mexico: Up by 86.8% (US$4.6 billion)
- Russia: Up by 33.3% (US$3.6 billion)
- Germany: Up by 37.7% (US$2.4 billion)
- Poland: Up by 27.9% (US$2 billion)
- Indonesia: Up by 72.4% (US$1.6 billion)
Among Hong Kong’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Hong Kong’s surpluses with Mexico (up 86.8%), Indonesia (up 72.4%) and Macao (up 64.7%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
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)
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 10 Exports 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 Trade Centre, Trade Map. 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
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on April 3, 2022