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Economy of Hong Kong

Hong Kong has often been cited by people such as Milton Friedman and the Cato Institute as an example of the benefits of laissez-faire capitalism. However, many analysts believe that this characterization of the Hong Kong economy is inaccurate, as the Hong Kong government, both under British and Chinese rule, have often intervened quite actively in the economy, for example by determining the amount of land to be sold and in quite actively maintain the peg to the U.S. dollar.

After a slump caused by the regionwide Asian financial crisis that began in 1997, Hong Kong's economy has been temporarily on the rebound. Real GDP growth was 3.1% in 1999 and reached double digits in the first half of 2000. After peaking at 6.3% in 1999, the unemployment rate eased back to 4.8% in mid-2000.

In August 1998, the government intervened in the stock, futures, and currency markets to fend off "manipulators." The banking sector remains solid, and the government is committed to the U.S.-Hong Kong dollar link.

The economy of Hong Kong has suffered from the SARS outbreak in early 2003. As of May 2003, the unemployment rate was 8.2%.

Hong Kong's magnificent harbor has facilitated rapid development of foreign trade. Hong Kong's principal trading partners include Mainland China, the United States, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, Singapore, and South Korea.

Hong Kong enjoyed economic growth in the past because of its strong manufacturing sector, but in recent years the service sector has surpassed it in importance and now accounts for 85% of GDP. The major components of Hong Kong's service trade are shipping, civil aviation, tourism, and various financial services. Hong Kong has one of the world's most sophisticated telecommunications and information technology infrastructures and functions as a major regional and international financial and commercial center.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $198.5 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 2.3% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $27,200 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 0.1%
industry: 13.4%
services: 86.5% (2001 est.)

Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices): -1.6% (2001 est.)

Labor force: 3.44 million (2001 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: wholesale and retail trade, restaurants, and hotels 31%, financing, insurance, and real estate 13%, community and social services 11%, manufacturing 7%, transport and communications 6%, construction 2%, other 30% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate: 5.2% (2001 est.)

revenues: $22.9 billion
expenditures: $24.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $465 million (FY00/01)


Industries: textiles, clothing, tourism, electronics, plastics, toys, watches, clocks

Industrial production growth rate: -9% (2001 est.)

Electricity - production: 29.449 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2000)
Electricity - consumption: 35.402 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 1.181 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 9.195 billion kWh (2000)


Hong Kong has little arable land and virtually no natural resources, including water for agriculture. Agriculturally, it is less than 20% self-sufficient.

Agriculture - products: fresh vegetables; poultry, fish, pork

Trade and investment

Exports: $191 billion f.o.b., including reexports (2001 est.)
Exports -
commodities: clothing, textiles, footwear, electrical appliances, watches and clocks, toys, plastics, precious stones
Exports - partners: Mainland China 43%, Japan 12%, Taiwan 8%, US 7%, South Korea 5%, Singapore 3% (2000)

Imports: $58.8 billion (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities: foodstuffs, transport equipment, raw materials, semimanufactures, petroleum; a large share is reexported
Imports - partners: Mainland China 41%, Japan 13%, US 8%, Taiwan 7%, South Korea 5%, Singapore 4% (1998)

Debt - external: $48.1 billion (1999)

Economic aid - recipient: none

See also: Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, Individual Visit Scheme


1 Hong Kong dollar (HK$) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: Hong Kong dollars per US dollar - 7.798 (January 2002), 7.7994 (2001), 7.7918 (2000), 7.7589 (1999), 7.7462 (1998), 7.7425 (1997); note - the Hong Kong dollar is linked to the US dollar at a rate of about 7.8 Hong Kong dollars per US dollar

Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March

See also: