Hong Kong, China Growth, Structural Change, and Economic Stability During the Transition

Introduction and Overview

As Hong Kong, China, enters a new level of development with the return to Chinese sovereignty, it can take self belief from its long-term evolution and its resilience to 香港相睇 adverse traits during the last 1/2-century. The capability of Hong Kong to prosper amidst change has intrigued economists for a long time. Nearly forty years ago, a pioneering take a look at of the economic boom of Hong Kong (Szczepanik (1958)) cited

On 30 August 1945, whilst Hong Kong become liberated after four years of occupation, its economic system was in ruins. Ten years later, the Colony executed the fame of being one of the maximum wealthy territories inside the Far East. It is difficult to find a similar example of financial boom. The question which without delay arises is how to explain this fascinating case of economic improvement (p. Three).
Yet, charming as it is able to have seemed, the progress made in the course of the Nineteen Fifties pales in contrast with what became found out in the course of the following a long time, in particular because the Seventies. As one observer (Smith (1997)) summed up the kingdom of the financial system at that time,

When I arrived within the territory in 1970, Hong Kong’s recognition turned into as a low-fee manufacturer of reasonably-priced apparel, wigs, plastic items and toys. Although the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, Standard Chartered, and Citibank have been found in Hong Kong with a group of particularly susceptible neighborhood banks, Hong Kong become in no feel a economic centre, not to mention an international financial centre. If a trading business enterprise had been to have asked its bankers for a fee for U.S. Greenbacks weeks therefore, it might maximum in all likelihood be advised: “If you need dollars in two weeks’ time, come back then—I’m sure we are able to have a few” (pp. 1–2).
In 1997, Hong Kong belongs to a very distinctive global. It has transformed itself into one of the global’s surest alternate, enterprise, and financial centers. Although quite small in terms of populace—approximately 6.Four million human beings, barely smaller than Switzerland—and place—1,1/2 square kilometers, about a third larger than New York City—Hong Kong has grown into an economic powerhouse, with GDP equal to US$155 billion, total exchange really worth over US$440 billion, and bank belongings worth over a thousand billion U.S. Dollars in 1996. With integration into the global provider economy, through 1996 Hong Kong had come to be

the arena’s 7th biggest trading entity and 7th biggest inventory market
the world’s fifth largest banking center in phrases of external economic transactions and 5th biggest foreign exchange marketplace in terms of average day by day turnover
the sector’s fourth main supply of foreign direct investment
the world’s busiest box port, and
one of the international’s maximum prosperous economies, with consistent with capita GDP of US$24,500 similar to all but the wealthiest business countries.
These achievements were found out inside a strong, noninterventionist economic coverage framework, where the authorities has carried out the classical function of providing a felony and administrative framework and elements of the physical infrastructure, and the private region has decided on its personal how to allocate assets on the basis of clean marketplace alerts. Within this placing, private companies have adapted quickly to shifts in comparative gain and have maintained competitiveness, at the same time as the economic system as an entire has established terrific strength and resilience within the face of economic and political shocks. Indeed, Hong Kong’s performance consists of critical messages for policymakers anywhere. First, it underscores that monetary success in today’s international is less a query of relative useful resource endowments and greater a query of the market perception of the orientation and predictability of monetary coverage. Second, more than every other economy in the world, Hong Kong has harnessed, rather than resisted, the forces of globalization and has thereby tested the economic gains that may be achieved, with the proper regulations, as the mixing of the world economic system keeps thru alternate, economic flows, and the trade of era and statistics.
This paper aims to discover a number of the motives for Hong Kong’s a success monetary overall performance and examine destiny financial prospects inside the context of current establishments and preparations for monetary policymaking which are expected to be in area after July 1, 1997. A dialogue of the publish-1997 preparations complements this evaluate by using highlighting the volume to which the prevailing institutions and economic regulations are predicted to be preserved beneath the “one united states of america, structures” technique envisaged for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People’s Republic of China. The following is a summary of the primary conclusions reached inside the paper.

Longer-Term Trends

Since 1980, Hong Kong’s economic system has multiplied by means of 6½ percent yearly and advanced via three enterprise cycles. The growth pattern over these cycles has taken three awesome paperwork: export-led increase (from 1980 to 1989), home demand-pushed boom (from 1990 through the primary half of of 1994), and consolidation (from the second 1/2 of 1994 through the primary 1/2 of 1996). During every phase, boom rates of actual GDP have end up regularly lower and greater strong, reflecting the maturing of the financial system and a structural shift from manufacturing to offerings.

The starting up of China to foreign trade and funding within the late Nineteen Seventies has had a profound effect on Hong Kong’s financial system. For an awful lot of its records, Hong Kong’s main financial feature became as China’s entrepôt. That characteristic, however, sincerely ceased between 1949 and 1978. During that period, Hong Kong evolved hard work-extensive production industries and began exporting its merchandise remote places. By the overdue Nineteen Seventies, manufacturing matured to the point in which Hong Kong marketers have been prepared to set up production centers abroad. China had ample land and hard work assets, however nonetheless lacked well-functioning transportation, telecommunications, and monetary sectors. These complementary component endowments have been the impetus for lots closer economic integration and the main pressure at the back of Hong Kong’s first rate structural transformation. Thus, among 1988 and 1995, the proportion of manufacturing in Hong Kong’s GDP fell through 12 percent factors, with an about corresponding upward push in the share of exchange, transportation, financing, real estate, and enterprise offerings. By 1995, the percentage of producing in Hong Kong had declined to much less than 9 percentage of GDP. In the process, Hong Kong’s conventional entrepôt position become resurrected, however this time inside a far broader placing—Hong Kong corporations no longer served just as intermediaries, but as initiators of global business pastime. This position has allowed Hong Kong to play a small however essential function within the corporation reform in China, as monetary integration with Hong Kong has furnished extra flexibility for China selectively to open, expand, and deregulate its domestic markets. For Hong Kong, increasing integration with mainland China has supposed that its business cycle has come to be greater synchronized with that of China. Given the related alternate price system between the Hong Kong and U.S. Bucks, this has implied, sometimes, that economic situations—decided basically by using the ones inside the United States—have not been in step with Hong Kong’s economic cycle. However, because of the flexibility of Hong Kong’s aspect markets, the essential changes have taken area via a rapid reallocation of resources.

Adjustment within the Mid-Nineties

During the early 1990s, Hong Kong skilled a increase in personal consumption, reexports, and asset markets. Stock expenses doubled in the course of 1993, and residential assets charges rose with the aid of a 3rd at some point of the first quarter of 1994 on my own. Inflation approached double-digit tiers and the outside stability deteriorated sharply. Successive will increase in U.S. Hobby prices in 1994 and the implementation of stabilization measures in China step by step cooled off demand in Hong Kong and brought about a extended consolidation in its asset markets. Between early 1994 and early 1996, increase slowed from approximately 6 percent to 3½ percentage a yr. In 1995, as the unemployment fee rose above the 3 percent mark for the primary time in more than a decade, purchaser sentiment became profoundly affected. However, the underlying basics were sound and investor confidence remained sturdy. Real wages and property fees fell swiftly between overdue 1994 and early 1996, while companies upgraded their workplace and production generation and reduce costs, as a consequence developing the necessary conditions for lower domestic inflation and resumption of growth. Without this adjustment, Hong Kong’s economic system might have approached the transition with growing macroeconomic imbalances and unsure prospects approximately stable increase after 1997.

Macroeconomic Policies

As regularly found, one of the “secrets” of Hong Kong’s monetary success lies in a clean division of roles between the non-public and public sectors. Within the general public sector, institutional elements, such as a sound and transparent legal machine, impartial judiciary, neutrality of the civil provider, free float of information, and small and efficient administration, have contributed in the direction of growing an ecosystem conducive to regular financial growth. Equally crucial were Hong Kong’s predominantly “rules-primarily based” macroeconomic guidelines and a company regulatory framework. Consistent with a noninterventionist technique, the authorities have maintained a coherent set of monetary, monetary, and alternate policies that have helped limit the size of the public area to under 20 percentage of GDP, and have preserved the flexibility of aspect and goods markets.

Fiscal coverage has traditionally geared toward keeping a easy and stable tax system with low tax quotes, limiting cutting-edge spending increases in keeping with GDP growth at the same time as offering ok investment for infrastructure projects and preserving sufficient reserves to deal with contingencies. The authorities have kept away from using fiscal subsidies or preferential tax remedy to sell unique sectors or industries. In addition, social welfare advantages have been narrowly targeted and labor marketplace policies have centered on offering help for retraining rather than for unemployment insurance. However, the government have additionally had a good sized involvement in sectors consisting of public housing and port and airport development, and via the discharge of land for development.

Monetary and alternate charge rules had been determined via forex board regulations in the course of maximum of Hong Kong’s history. Under the linked trade rate system hooked up in 1983, economic coverage has a single, obvious objective: to maintain a solid exchange price among the Hong Kong and U.S. Dollars. The link, together with the liberty from controls on capital flows, means that Hong Kong’s hobby fees are basically determined via U.S. Monetary conditions. While the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has some constrained tools to steer interbank liquidity and thereby have an effect on local short-term interest charges, these devices had been used sparingly, specially to smooth the occasional volatility in overnight hobby prices. Such operations, but, have been very much a secondary objective to the primary goal of protecting the exchange rate link, which has served Hong Kong properly and has provided a company anchor for monetary guidelines.

In assist of the exchange price hyperlink, the financial regulatory framework has been overhauled for the reason that banking disaster of the early Nineteen Eighties and the government have placed precedence on keeping excessive standards of prudential supervision consistent with exceptional international practices. Their method in this region has been to sell a freer waft of statistics approximately the monetary zone by means of improving banks’ disclosure requirements, to complement on-website financial institution examinations with off-website evaluation and evaluation, and to ensure that banks’ internal chance control systems function properly.

The government have played a constrained, hands-off position in growing the monetary region, focusing on providing a suitable institutional and regulatory framework and leaving the development of economic products to the market. In this context, recent tasks have covered the status quo of an extended-time period benchmark yield curve, the creation of a Mortgage Corporation, and bringing interbank clearing into the Monetary Authority thru the advent of a Real Time Gross Settlement system.

The existing macroeconomic coverage framework has served Hong Kong extraordinarily properly. There has been no buildup of unsustainable macroeconomic pressures over time. Occasional bouts of inflation and exchange balance deterioration caused pressures to lessen expenses and restore competitiveness. The absence of coverage distortions has helped promote bendy markets and make certain that elements of production move smoothly across sectors in response to changes in marketplace situations. Prudent budgetary control has resulted in the accumulation of extensive fiscal reserves (equal to fourteen percent of GDP on the cease of FY1996), and, together with developing self assurance within the Hong Kong greenback, has underpinned the strong increase of foreign exchange reserves, which reached US$sixty four billion on the cease of 1996.

In the monetary quarter, the banking device has end up profitable and the banks have become quite capitalized—the chance-weighted capital adequacy ratio for the whole banking system was nearly 18 percent in 1996. The use of conservative mortgage-to-value ratios and variable mortgage rates has enabled the banks to resist widespread asset marketplace shocks. As banks’ assets and liabilities are repriced quick, modifications in interest costs have typically had a small and brief-lived impact on lending and deposit interest fee spreads.

In the nontraded items markets, a consistent software of deregulation is below way. There is, but, a want for the authorities to take further steps to growth opposition in certain provider industries, which would further beautify Hong Kong’s position as an international business and financial middle.


Concerns approximately the potential of Hong Kong’s provider industries to preserve tempo with their competition within the emerging nearby facilities, along with Singapore, Shanghai, and Kuala Lumpur, were heightened in recent years by rising exertions and assets prices and uncertainties related to the transfer of sovereignty. The trouble of competitiveness has inspired a extensive-ranging debate and has emerged as a key public policy problem at the eve of Hong Kong’s transition in 1997. Many observers have argued that, with Hong Kong getting into a brand new technology, a clean appearance have to be taken on the government’s arms-off method to business policy. The discussion has been hampered through the lack of sectoral data in constant expenses, which has made it tough to assess whether the offerings sector has a competitiveness hassle.

To deal with a number of these problems in an analytical framework, the look at presented in Section V constructs estimates of competitiveness for Hong Kong’s production and offerings industries from relatively disaggregated production-primarily based GDP information for 1982–94. These estimates indicate that Hong Kong’s service industries, especially those generating tradable goods and services, are fairly competitive, and that markets have executed well in channeling resources closer to greater green uses. Wholesale trade, import/export change, transportation, communications, financial, and business offerings all expanded, on common, at double-digit annual costs in real phrases and recorded excessive boom charges of labor productivity for the reason that early Eighties. Responding to relative fee modifications and relative salary differentials, hard work and other sources have moved in a clear, predictable sample from production and certain declining service industries to the unexpectedly growing sectors, consisting of change, transportation, financing, and enterprise offerings.

There has been a marked distinction in the overall performance of tradable and nontradable industries. Manufacturing and tradable offerings (import/export change, most transportation industries, financing) expanded on average two times as rapid as nontradable services (retail change, eating places and resorts, domestic passenger transportation, actual estate, and social and personal offerings). At the equal time, fees of nontradables improved two times as speedy as costs of tradables. As employment boom in nontradable industries outpaced that of tradables via a large margin, productivity boom in the tradable industries has been plenty quicker than in nontradable industries. This productivity differential bills for almost the entire inflation differential among Hong Kong and the United States, suggesting that the real exchange fee of the Hong Kong dollar did not come to be overrated. These effects confirm the view that inflation beneath Hong Kong’s connected alternate price system has been an equilibrating reaction to the rather sturdy productiveness increase in tradable industries.

Transition and Future Prospects

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