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Budget Speech

Economic Performance in 2013

8.    The domestic sector remained resilient amid challenges facing the global economy in 2013.  The Hong Kong economy grew by 2.9 per cent for the year, a marked improvement over 1.5 per cent in 2012.

9.    The US and European economies were beset by a tepid recovery, which put a drag on Hong Kong's trade performance.  Merchandise exports to the US shrank by four per cent in 2013 and those to the European Union (EU) fell by one per cent.

10.    China's robust economy is the driving force of economic growth in the region and underpins the Hong Kong economy.  More than half of Hong Kong's exports of goods went to the Mainland market, outpacing other markets.  As for tourism, visitors from the Mainland accounted for 75 per cent of the total arrivals and helped stabilise the local economy and preserve employment.

11.    Energy and raw material prices remained stable, alongside a generally moderate increase in import prices of food.  Domestic price pressures, however, were more notable.  Inflation edged up in the third quarter of last year, reflecting the lagged effects of the surge in private housing rentals in 2012, but tapered subsequently following the decelerated rise in fresh-letting rentals since early 2013.  The average headline inflation rate for 2013 as a whole was 4.3 per cent, while the underlying inflation rate, at four per cent, was down by 0.7 percentage point from 2012.

12.    The unemployment rate averaged at a low level of 3.3 per cent, buoying the local consumption market.  The initiatives introduced in last year's Budget, including a $33 billion package of one-off counter-cyclical measures, had a fiscal stimulus effect of boosting the GDP by 1.3 percentage points, thereby helping to stabilise the economy and preserve employment.



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