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Hong Kong's offshore trade statistics for 2010

     The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released today (February 9) the statistics on Hong Kong's exports of services relating to offshore trade for 2010, with breakdowns by type of service and destination.

     In Hong Kong's exports of services, those relating to offshore trade are classified under "merchanting and other trade-related services", which is a major service group within exports of services.  According to the trade in services statistics for 2010, on which a separate press release was issued today, exports of services relating to offshore trade constituted 95.7% of the value of exports of "merchanting and other trade-related services", or 28.3% of the value of total exports of services of Hong Kong, in 2010.

     In 2010, Hong Kong earned $233.5 billion from offshore trade, up by 18.7% compared with 2009.  Within this total, the gross margin from "merchanting" was $203.3 billion (up by 18.6% compared with 2009), and the commission from "merchandising for offshore transactions" was $30.1 billion (up by 20.0%).

     Offshore trade covers the services of "merchanting" and "merchandising for offshore transactions" provided by establishments operating in Hong Kong (excluding their affiliates located outside Hong Kong).  Earnings from offshore trade include gross margin from "merchanting" and commission from "merchandising for offshore transactions".

     "Merchanting" is defined as services associated with the trading of goods which are purchased from and then sold to parties outside Hong Kong, without the goods entering and leaving Hong Kong.  An establishment engaged in "merchanting" in Hong Kong takes ownership of the goods involved.  Also included are transactions of goods manufactured outside Hong Kong through sub-contract processing arrangement and sold directly to parties outside Hong Kong, without the goods entering and leaving Hong Kong.

     "Merchandising for offshore transactions" is defined as services of arranging on behalf of buyers/sellers outside Hong Kong the purchases/sales of goods according to their specifications (examples of such services include multiple sourcing, marketing, contract and price negotiation, sample and volume procurement, shipment, inspection and arrangement of follow-up order).  The goods involved are sold by a party outside Hong Kong to another party outside Hong Kong under the arrangement of an establishment operating in Hong Kong, without the goods entering and leaving Hong Kong.  Unlike "merchanting", an establishment engaged in such merchandising transactions in Hong Kong, in its capacity as an agent or broker, does not take ownership of the goods involved and hence recording of the value of goods involved is not required in its accounting system.

     In 2010, the sales value of goods involved in "merchanting" grew by 35.1% compared with 2009 to $3,337.4 billion.  Meanwhile, the sales value of goods involved in "merchandising for offshore transactions" was estimated at $548.9 billion in 2010, up by 19.2% compared with 2009.

     There is a difference in the level of involvement of the service providers in "merchanting" and "merchandising for offshore transactions" activities.  This might be reflected by the difference between the rate of gross margin from "merchanting" (6.1%) and the commission rate from "merchandising for offshore transactions" (5.5%) estimated in 2010.

     Whilst not providing exactly the same type of services, "merchanting" and "merchandising for offshore transactions", if taken together, involved a total of $3,886.3 billion in terms of the sales value of goods in 2010, up by 32.6% compared with 2009.

     Correspondingly, the value of re-exports was $2,961.5 billion in 2010, up by 22.8% compared with 2009.  The rate of re-export margin was estimated at 15.9%.

     Analysed by destination of exports of services relating to offshore trade, the United States of America and the mainland of China (the Mainland) were the two major destinations in terms of offshore trade earnings, accounting for 30.0% and 21.4% respectively of the gross margin/commission earned in 2010.  They were followed by the United Kingdom (6.8%), Germany (5.2%) and Japan (4.9%).

     Analysed by destination of goods sold under "merchanting", the Mainland was the major destination, accounting for 44.4% of the total value of goods sold under such arrangement in 2010.  It was followed by the United States of America (14.9%), Singapore (7.7%), Japan (5.2%) and the United Kingdom (4.0%).


     A Government spokesman noted that offshore trade fared strongly in 2010, on the back of thriving regional and global trade flows amid a thawing global economy.  The sales value of goods involved in offshore trade continued to exceed and expand at a faster pace than that involved in re-exports in 2010, reflecting the increasingly prominent role played by offshore trade in Hong Kong's external trade structure.  

Further information

     Table 1 presents the analysis of activities of exports of services relating to offshore trade and re-exports of goods in 2009 and 2010.

     Table 2 presents the analysis of gross margin/commission earned from offshore trade by main destination of exports of services in 2009 and 2010.

     Table 3 presents the analysis of merchanting activities by main destination of sales of goods involved in merchanting in 2009 and 2010.

     More detailed statistics relating to offshore trade presented in the context of trade in services statistics will be given in the "Report on Hong Kong Trade in Services Statistics for 2010".  Users can download the publication free of charge at the website of the C&SD ( as from February 23, 2012.

     Enquiries about trade in services and offshore trade statistics can be directed to the Trade in Services Statistics Section of the C&SD (Tel.: 2802 1372 or e-mail:

Ends/Thursday, February 9, 2012
Issued at HKT 16:35


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