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GDP forecast revised downwards

Hong Kong's economy suffered a heavy blow in the first quarter with GDP falling 7.8% after a 2.6% drop in last year's fourth quarter, according to the Census & Statistics Department (news.gov.hk). Taking into account the considerable markdown in the world economic outlook, GDP for 2009 as a whole is now forecast to contract up to 6.5% in real terms, down from the forecast decline of up to 3% noted in the Budget.

The latest GDP forecast is subject to an unusually large degree of uncertainty from the still evolving global financial and economic environments, the department said, adding the outbreak of the human swine influenza in North America has also emerged as a new source of uncertainty.

The expected pick-up in the Mainland economy, the recent rebound in global stock markets, and the relative improvement in economic sentiment both in the US and Europe have provided a glimpse of light at the end of a long tunnel, it said. However, a strong recovery is not yet in sight.

Meanwhile, April saw the value of total goods exports slip to $199 billion, down 18.2% on the same month last year, according to the Census & Statistics Department. Within this total, the value of re-exports dropped 17.5% to $194.4 billion, while the value of domestic exports fell 40.2% to $4.6 billion. The value of goods imports dropped 17% to $215.4 billion. A visible trade deficit of $16.4 billion, about 7.6% of the value of goods imports, was recorded.

The Hong Kong port's container throughput from January to April this year tottaled 6.3 million TEU, a decrease of 20.4% YoY. For the month of April, some 1.7 million TEU were handled at the Hong Kong port.

Over at the Shenzhen ports, 5.2 million TEU were handled from January to April this year (-22% drop in growth rate), and 1.3 million TEU for the month of April with a -24.9% drop in growth over April last year.