HONG KONG - Hong Kong's financial chief John Tsang said on Wednesday in his budget speech that the city's economy grew by 6.8 percent in 2010.
Tsang said the economy in 2010 staged a full recovery at a faster pace than expected in the wake of the downturn in 2009, thanks to the strong growth in the Chinese mainland and Asia that the economy has surpassed the pre-tsunami level.
Hong Kong's exports of goods soared by 17.3 percent in real terms for the year as a whole, underpinned by the reviving global trade flows, Tsang said.
As the employment market improved and income increased, private consumption expenditure registered a significant growth of 5.8 percent in 2010.
Benefiting from an upbeat business sentiment and the commencement of major infrastructure projects, the overall investment recorded a strong growth of 8.1 percent last year.
The job market improved significantly in the past year on the great resilience and flexibility of the labor market, as well as the proven effectiveness of measures that Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government took to counter the financial tsunami, Tsang said. The unemployment rate dropped from its peak in mid-2009 by 1.7 percentage points to 3.8 percent recently.
As the unemployment rate has already fallen back to a relatively low level, there will be limited room for further significant decline, Tsang said, citing that they also need to pay attention to the effect of the implementation of statutory minimum wage on the unemployment rate. "The generally strong economic conditions should help us through this change."
Against a backdrop of a strong economic recovery, a soft US dollar and rising global food and commodity prices, inflationary pressure has gradually built up in Hong Kong this year. The average inflation rate for 2010 as measured by the Composite Consumer Price Index was 2.4 percent. Netting out the effects of the Hong Kong SAR's one-off relief measures, the underlying inflation rate was 1.7 percent.
"Taking into account the rapid economic expansion of 6.8 percent last year, inflation for the year was rather moderate," said Tsang. "The significant improvement in productivity which continued throughout last year went some way towards alleviating the pressure of rising prices."