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Trade Export Index shows small rebound

Export confidence has shown signs of stabilisation despite the continuing global economic downturn, according to the latest HKTDC Export Index, published by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (www.hktdc.com/tq) in March. There has been some improvement after four consecutive quarters of decline. The HKTDC Export Index monitors the export performance of major industries in Hong Kong. Despite the slight rebound in sentiment, confidence remains fragile, with pessimists outnumbering optimists. The main reason cited was weak buyer demand. All industries, however, showed a rebound in confidence. The index for timepieces saw the biggest rise, jumping 11 points, to 28.5. Jewellery exporters, however, remained pessimistic, with the jewellery index recording the lowest industry rating, despite a rise of 6.5 points to 19.

The Export Confidence Index stood at 25.8 in the first quarter of this year, compared with 22.3 in the fourth quarter of 2008. This signals a slowdown in the export contraction rate. Export confidence improved in all major markets, with the Chinese mainland, at 45.5, continuing to lead the pack. "Hong Kong exporters are actively developing new markets. Fourteen per cent of companies surveyed reported new buyers from emerging markets in the past six months. They came not only from Asia, but as far afield as Latin America and Africa," HKTDC Chief Economist Edward Leung said.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong port slowed down in February with a 20.6% drop in throughput, to just 1.3 million TEU. Over in Shenzhen, the ports handled 1.02 million TEU in Feburary, a 26.2% decrease over the same period last year.

For the whole year of 2008, the Hong Kong port handled a total of 24.5 million TEU at a rise of 2.1%. The Shenzhen ports saw a total throughput of 21.4 million TEU for 2008, a 1.5% rise over 2007.