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Hong Kong export growth to remain mild in 2010

  Hong Kong exports are expected to experience only mild growth in 2010 given that external demand will remain below their pre-crisis level, economists has said. 

    The Hang Seng Bank on Monday estimated that Hong Kong exports fell by 12.4 percent in 2009, and projected a growth of 8.6 percent in 2010.

    The rebound will be significant but the total value of exports will remain below the pre-crisis level in 2008, the bank''s Chief Economist Joanne Yim said in a report released on Monday.

    The United States consumers were not expected to consume in the near term as they did before the global financial crisis, Yim said.

    Edward Leung, chief economist of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), said on Monday he was not optimistic about U.S. consumption in 2010, either.

    In an earlier report on the Hong Kong export outlook, the HKTD Chad said it expected the Hong Kong exports to return to year-on- year growth in 2010 but the growth will be a mild 5 percent for the full year.

    The exports to the traditional markets, including the United States, shall remain below their pre-crisis levels in short term, it said.

    The rise of protectionism in the weak of the global economic downturn remained a threat to Hong Kong exporters, Leung said.

    The University of Hong Kong on Monday projected a fall of 0.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009 and a full-year fall of 12.1percent.

    Hong Kong exports shrank by 12.4 percent in the second quarter of 2009, and by 13.2 percent in the third quarter.

    The university also made a downward revision of its forecast for the Hong Kong''s fourth quarter GDP growth from 1.0 percent to 0.8 percent, citing a slowdown in inventory restocking.

    Alan Siu, director of the university''s Hong Kong Institute of Economics and Business Strategy, said the Hong Kong exports will return to a positive year-on-year growth of 10.8 percent in the first quarter, but demand in the United States market remained rather weak.

    The robust growth in the Chinese mainland has helped ease the drop in Hong Kong''s external trade, he added.

    The Hong Kong University projected a growth of 4-5 percent for the Hong Kong economy in 2010, but said it was "no cause for celebration," and should not be interpreted as a sign of robust growth, but rather as further evidence of the tepid economic recovery started in the second half.

    The Hong Kong economy remained highly dependent on external demand, Siu said.

    The Hang Seng Bank projected a growth of 3.5 percent for the Hong Kong economy.

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