Economic Performance in 2004
4. Our economy recovered
throughout 2004, moving out of the doldrums that had
beset us since the Asian financial crisis.
Last year, it grew by 8.1 per cent, the
highest rate in four years and well above the average
annual growth rate of 4.8 per cent over the past 20
suggests that our economy is back on an upward track
following the adjustments over the past few years.
5. Our external trade in 2004
remained buoyant: total exports of goods and offshore
trade both surged by 15 per cent.
The number of visitor arrivals for the year
reached an all-time high of 21.81 million.
Private consumption increased significantly, by
6.7 per cent. Likewise,
investment in industrial machinery, after falling for
several years, resumed positive growth, with an overall
increase of 20 per cent for the year, the highest since
values rebounded, and the number of homeowners with
negative equity fell drastically from about 106
the middle of 2003 to around 19 000 at the end of
number of bankruptcy petitions also decreased from more
2003 to about 12
2004, and was the lowest in four years.
With the economic upturn,
the unemployment rate fell steadily from its peak of 8.6
per cent in the middle of 2003 to a three-year low of
6.4 per cent earlier this year. The total employed population rose at a
remarkable pace to an all-time high of 3.34 million, up
by about 154 000 over the trough in 2003. There was a surge in vacancies across many
7. In July 2004, the
deflation that had persisted for nearly six years
finally came to an end.
With brisk local consumer demand and vibrant
inbound tourism, 2004 has seen a progressive return of
local retailers?pricing power.
In the first half of the year, the Composite
Consumer Price Index still experienced a 1.3 per cent
year-on-year decline, but in the second half of 2004
this reversed to a small increase of 0.5 per cent.
For the year as a whole, the average price
decline was only 0.4 per cent.