A recent update (from the Office for National Statistics) on trade between the UK and Hong Kong gives an exciting insight into the long-term relationship between the two parties. While Covid has impacted business, the latest report provides a fascinating insight into the balance of power. The combined value of trade between Hong Kong and the UK (including imports and exports) hit £28.5 billion in 2022.


Split of trading figures


Many will be surprised to learn that there is a significant balance in favour of the UK regarding trade with Hong Kong. The split is as follows:-


· UK exports to Hong Kong totalled £18.2 billion in 2022

· This was an increase of 40.4% or £5.2 billion compared to the previous year

· Hong Kong exports to the UK totalled £10.2 billion in 2022

· This was a reduction of 13% or £1.5 billion on the previous year


This makes Hong Kong the UK's 13th largest trading partner, accounting for 1.7% of total UK trade. However, this is dwarfed by the degree of foreign direct investment:-


· UK foreign direct investment in Hong Kong hit a staggering £77.6 billion (an increase of £142 million) in 2021, 4.4% of all outward UK foreign direct investment

· Hong Kong foreign direct investment in the UK was £16.3 billion (a decrease of £9.7 billion) in 2021, 0.8% of total UK inward foreign direct investment


We will now take a more detailed look at these figures and recent trends, split between goods and services.


Goods and services


As we touched on above, total trade between the UK and Hong Kong hit £28.5 billion in 2022, an overall increase of 15%. This was split as follows:-


· UK goods exported to Hong Kong, £12.6 billion

· UK services exported to Hong Kong, £5.6 billion

· Hong Kong goods exported to the UK, £6.1 billion

· Hong Kong services exported to the UK, £4.1 billion


In 2013 and 2014, the UK had a trade deficit with Hong Kong of £400 million and £500 million, respectively. From 2015 onwards, this switched to a trade balance, rising from £600 million to £8 billion in 2022.


The primary goods exported to Hong Kong by value include:-


· Mechanical power generators (£2.2 billion)

· Non-ferrous metals (£886.8 million)

· Miscellaneous electrical goods (£340.9 million)

· Jewellery (£290.2 million)


The leading services exported to Hong Kong were as follows:-


· Financial (£2.1 billion)

· Other business services (£1.6 billion)

· Travel (£693 million)

· Transportation (£558 million)

· Telecom, computing and information services (£387 million)


The equivalent figures for goods exported from Hong Kong were as follows:-


· Telecoms and sound equipment (£1.1 billion)

· Miscellaneous electrical goods (£815.8 million)

· Office machinery (£691.9 million)

· Other manufacturers (£449.8 million)

· Clothing (£299.3 million)


During 2022 the leading services exported from Hong Kong to the UK included:-


· Other business services (£2.4 billion)

· Financial (£991 million)

· Transportation (£276 million)

· Travel (£173 million)

· Telecom, computing and information services (£97 million)


Interestingly, the East Midlands (26.9%) and London (27.5%) account for the lion’s share of UK goods exported to Hong Kong. When importing goods from Hong Kong, the south-east (25.4%) and London (19.6%) lead the way.




There has been a staggering turnaround in the UK's trading position with Hong Kong over the last decade. Having initially reported a trading deficit as recently as 2013, the UK now has an £8 billion trading surplus.

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