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Exporters foresee business uptick


HKTDC’s revamped Export Confidence Index brings a more comprehensive outlook on export performance.


A generally optimistic outlook for export is reflected in the new HKTDC Export Confidence Index, in which the electronics sector is likely to enjoy a strong performance.

The long-established HKTDC Export Index has been upgraded to a  quarterly HKTDC Export Confidence Index, which provides a more comprehensive overview of business sentiment among Hong Kong-based exporters.

The Export Confidence Index comprises five sub-indices – Sales and New Orders, Trade Value, Cost, Procurement and Inventory. These findings are evaluated in terms of Current Performance – how they represent current market sentiment – and Expectation – a measure of exporter sentiment with regard to the coming quarter.

The overall Expectation score for the first quarter of 2024 was 47.4. This figure is close to the 50 benchmark – the dividing point between contractionary and expansionary trends – indicating an improved near-term export outlook. It is also worth noting that the Expectation scores for all sub-indices comfortably exceeded the Current Performance reading of 39.6, suggesting that exporters are hopeful about the business prospects in Hong Kong.

HKTDC Director of Research Irina Fan points out that the new index factors in multiple elements that impact exporter confidence, so that the quarterly assessment of this key component of Hong Kong’s economy can be more versatile, relevant and insightful.

She adds that the Index results show a likely uptick in orders from Mainland China and a gradual overall recovery in exports driven by the electronics sector.

Certain findings convey optimistic prospects for Mainland China and the US, such as the Sales and New Orders sub-index highlighting rising confidence in export growth, with its 49.9 reading close enough to 50 to suggest a high likelihood of stabilisation.

On the market front, exporters are generally more optimistic with regard to Mainland China and the United States, with exporters anticipating resumed growth in mainland orders in the second quarter.

Electronics enjoyed the most positive outlook among the six key export sectors, followed by timepieces, equipment/materials, clothing, toys and jewellery.

Stronger procurement activities in the electronics, toys and equipment/materials sectors are expected, as the corresponding Expectation indices approach or exceed the 50 level.

Among survey respondents, economic risks remained the primary concern among external market issues that could potentially impact exports over the next 12 months. For 83.3% of respondents, an economic slowdown or recession in their primary markets was considered the biggest potential obstacle to export growth.

HKTDC Senior Economist Cherry Yeung explains that the overall sentiment remains positive. Some 70% of traders anticipate resumed growth in their core overseas markets, while 37.1% look forward to a rapid upturn in mainland market demand. 36.4% of respondents are confident that e-commerce will provide new impetus for export businesses in the coming year.

55.9% of exporters believe their future profitability will remain unchanged or improve, while 40.9% foresee their profit levels to stay stable and 15% see an upturn on the horizon.

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