Hong Kong exported US$551.5 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2020. That dollar amount reflects a 6.8% increase since 2016 and a 3% gain from 2019 to 2020.
Applying a continental lens, 75.4% of Hong Kong’s exports by value were delivered to fellow Asian countries while 13.5% were sold to importers in Europe. Hong Kong shipped another 8.2% worth of goods to North America.
Tinier percentages went to Africa (1.1%), Oceania led by Australia (0.9%) then Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (also 0.9%).
Hong Kong’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 15 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 2020. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Hong Kong exports.
- China: US$304.7 billion (55.2% of Hong Kong’s total exports)
- United States: $39.9 billion (7.2%)
- United Kingdom: $18.2 billion (3.3%)
- Switzerland: $15 billion (2.7%)
- Japan: $14.1 billion (2.6%)
- India: $13.2 billion (2.4%)
- Taiwan: $13.2 billion (2.4%)
- Vietnam: $11 billion (2%)
- Singapore: $10.9 billion (2%)
- Netherlands: $8.3 billion (1.5%)
- Germany: $8.1 billion (1.5%)
- Thailand: $8 billion (1.5%)
- United Arab Emirates: $7.1 billion (1.3%)
- South Korea: $7 billion (1.3%)
- Macao: $5.3 billion (1%)
Approaching nine-tenths (87.8%) of Hong Kong’s exports in 2020 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
The fastest increases in purchases of exports from Hong Kong from 2019 to 2020 belong to Switzerland (up 149.6%), United Kingdom (up 117.9%) and Taiwan (up 13.4%).
The leading year-over-year decliners were Thailand (down -23.2%), Macao (down -20.7%), India (down -14.7%) and United Arab Emirates (down -11.8%).
Overall, Hong Kong incurred a -$21.5 billion trade deficit for 2020, a -49.8% decline from -$42.9 billion in red ink one year earlier.
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$40.8 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2020)
- Singapore: -$30.4 billion
- South Korea: -$25.8 billion
- Japan: -$19.4 billion
- Malaysia: -$17 billion
- Philippines: -$6.5 billion
- Vietnam: -$4.3 billion
- Thailand: -$4.1 billion
- France: -$1.7 billion
- Italy: -$1.6 billion
Among Hong Kong’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, the greatest increases in red ink from 2019 to 2020 belong to Thailand (up 374.9%), Taiwan (up 32.9%) and South Korea (up 24.2%).
In addition, Hong Kong went from a -$4.3 billion deficit trading with Vietnam in 2020, reversing a $259.4 million surplus in 2019.
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.
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.
- China: US$53.6 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2020)
- United States: $17 billion
- United Kingdom: $9 billion
- Switzerland: $8.1 billion
- Netherlands: $6.3 billion
- India: $5.8 billion
- Macao: $4.4 billion
- Russia: $2.7 billion
- Mexico: $2.4 billion
- Germany: $1.7 billion
Among Hong Kong’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Hong Kong’s surpluses with China (up 70.3%) and United States (up 44.5%) grew at the fastest percentage pace from 2019 to 2020.
In addition, Hong Kong reversed a -$4.5 billion deficit trading with Switzerland in 2019 to generate an $8.1 billion surplus for 2020. United Kingdom’s trade resulted in a $9 billion surplus for Hong Kong in 2020 after causing -$1.8 billion in red ink one year earlier.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate Hong Kong’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Hong Kong to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Major Hong Kong Companies Servicing Trading Partners
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 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 Hong Kong’s Top 10 Exports, Hong Kong’s Top 10 Imports and Top Asian Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on May 25, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on May 25, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on May 25, 2021
Wikipedia, Hong Kong. Accessed on May 25, 2021
Wikipedia, List of companies of Hong Kong. Accessed on May 25, 2021
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on May 25, 2021