As one of the world's leading international financial centres, Hong Kong's service-oriented economy is characterized by its low taxation, almost free port trade and well established international financial market. Its currency, called the Hong Kong dollar, is legally issued by three major international commercial banks, and pegged to the US dollar. Interest rates are determined by the individual banks in Hong Kong to ensure they are market driven. There is no officially recognised central banking system, although the Hong Kong Monetary Authority functions as a financial regulatory authority.
According to the Index of Economic Freedom, Hong Kong has had the highest degree of economic freedom in the world since the inception of the index in 1995. Its economy is governed under positive non-interventionism, and is highly dependent on international trade and finance. For this reason it is regarded as among the most favorable places to start a company. In fact, a recent study shows that Hong Kong has come from 998 registered start-ups in 2014 to over 2800 in 2018, with eCommerce (22%), Fintech (12%), Software (12%) and Advertising (11%) companies comprising the majority. The Economic Freedom of the World Index listed Hong Kong as the number one country, with a score of 8.97, in 2015.
Hong Kong's economic strengths include a sound banking system, virtually no public debt, a strong legal system, ample foreign exchange reserves at around US $408 billion as of mid-2017, rigorous anti-corruption measures and close ties with mainland China. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is a favourable destination for international firms and firms from mainland China to be listed due to Hong Kong's highly internationalised and modernised financial industry along with its capital market in Asia, its size, regulations and available financial tools, which are comparable to London and New York.
Hong Kong's gross domestic product has grown 180 times between 1961 and 1997. Also, the GDP per capita rose by 87 times within the same time frame. Its economy is slightly larger than Israel's or Ireland's and its GDP per capita at purchasing power parity was the sixth highest globally in 2011, higher than the United States and the Netherlands and slightly lower than Brunei. In 2009, Hong Kong's real economic growth fell by 2.8% as a result of the global financial turmoil.
By the late 20th century, Hong Kong was the seventh largest port in the world and second only to New York and Rotterdam in terms of container throughput. Hong Kong is a full Member of World Trade Organization. The Kwai Chung container complex was the largest in Asia; while Hong Kong shipping owners were second only to those of Greece in terms of total tonnage holdings in the world. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is the sixth largest in the world, with a market capitalisation of about US$3.732 trillion.
Hong Kong has also had an abundant supply of labour from the regions nearby. A skilled labour force coupled with the adoption of modern British/Western business methods and technology ensured that opportunities for external trade, investment, and recruitment were maximised. Prices and wages in Hong Kong are relatively flexible, depending on the performance and stability of the economy of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong raises revenues from the sale and taxation of land and through attracting international businesses to provide capital for its public finance, due to its low tax policy. According to Healy Consultants, Hong Kong has the most attractive business environment within East Asia, in terms of attracting foreign direct investment (FDI). In 2013, Hong Kong was the third largest recipient of FDI in the world.
The Hong Kong Government was the fourth highest ranked Asian government in the World Economic Forum's Network Readiness Index (NRI), a measure of a government's information and communication technologies in 2016, and ranked 13th globally.
|Economy of Hong Kong|
|Currency||Hong Kong dollar (HKD)|
|1 April – 31 March|
|APEC and WTO|
|GDP|| $363.031 billion (nominal, 2018)|
$480.494 billion (PPP, 2018)
|GDP rank||35th (nominal, 2018)|
43rd (PPP, 2017)
|2.1% (2016) 3.8% (2017)|
3.0% (2018) 2.7% (2019e)
GDP per capita
| $48,517 (nominal, 2018)|
$64,215 (PPP, 2018)
GDP by sector
|agriculture: 0.1% industry: 7.6% services: 92.3% (2017 est.)|
Population below poverty line
|19.9% (2016 est.)|
|53.9 high (2016)|
|0.933 very high (2017) (7th)|
|3.968.7 million (July 2017)|
Labour force by occupation
|manufacturing (6.5%), construction (2.1%), wholesale and retail trade, restaurants, and hotels (43.3%), financing, insurance, and real estate (20.7%), transport and communications (7.8%), community and social services (19.5%)|
|Unemployment||3.1% (July 2017)|
|textiles, clothing, tourism, banking, shipping, electronics, plastics, toys, watches, clocks|
|Exports||$537.8 billion (2017 est.)|
|electrical machinery and appliances, textiles, apparel, watches and clocks, toys, jewelry, goldsmiths' and silversmiths' wares, and other articles of precious or semi-precious materials|
Main export partners
| Mainland China 54.1% |
United States 7.7%
|Imports||$561.8 billion (2017 est.)|
|raw materials and semi-manufactures, consumer goods, capital goods, foodstuffs, fuel (most is reexported)|
Main import partners
| Mainland China 44.6% |
South Korea 5.5%
United States 5.2%
|$2.2 trillion (31 December 2017 est.)|
Gross external debt
|$633.6 billion (31 December 2017 est.)|
|0.1% of GDP (2017 est.)|
|+5.2% (of GDP) (2017 est.)|
|Revenues||79.34 billion (2017 est.)|
|Expenses||61.64 billion (2017 est.)|
|Standard & Poor's:|
AAA (T&C Assessment)
|US$431 billion (December 2017)|
The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is the sixth largest in the world, with a market capitalisation of about US$3.732 trillion as of mid-2017. In 2006, the value of initial public offerings (IPO) conducted in Hong Kong was second highest in the world after London. In 2009, Hong Kong raised 22 percent of IPO capital, becoming the largest centre of IPOs in the world. The exchange is the world's 10th largest by turnover and third largest in China.
Since the 1997 handover, Hong Kong's economic future became far more exposed to the challenges of economic globalisation and the direct competition from cities in mainland China. In particular, Shanghai claimed to have a geographical advantage. The Shanghai municipal government dreamt of turning the city into China's main economic centre by as early as 2010. The target is to allow Shanghai to catch up to New York by 2040–2050.
Hong Kong's economic policy has often been cited by economists such as Milton Friedman and the Cato Institute as an example of laissez-faire capitalism, attributing the city's success to the policy. However, others have argued that the economic strategy is not adequately characterised by the term laissez-faire. They point out that there are still many ways in which the government is involved in the economy, some of which exceed the degree of involvement in other capitalist countries. For example, the government is involved in public works projects, healthcare, education, and social welfare spending. Further, although rates of taxation on personal and corporate income are low by international standards, unlike most other countries Hong Kong's government raises a significant portion of its revenues from land leases and land taxation. All land in Hong Kong is owned by the government and is leased to private developers and users on fixed terms, for fees which are paid to the state treasury. By restricting the sale of land leases, the Hong Kong government keeps the price of land at what some consider as artificially high prices and this allows the government to support public spending with a low tax rate on income and profit.
Hong Kong has been ranked as the world's freest economy in the Index of Economic Freedom of The Heritage Foundation for 24 consecutive years, since its inception in 1995. The index measures restrictions on business, trade, investment, finance, property rights and labour, and considers the impact of corruption, government size and monetary controls in 183 economies. Hong Kong is the only economy to have scored 90 points or above on the 100-point scale, achieved in 2014 and 2018.
The following table shows the main economic indicators in 1980–2017. Inflation under 2 % is in green.
(in Bil. US$ PPP)
|GDP per capita
(in US$ PPP)
(in % of GDP)
|1980||34.5||6,771||10.3 %||4.4 %||3.8 %||n/a|
|1981||41.2||7,897||9.2 %||9.5 %||3.9 %||n/a|
|1982||45.0||8,497||2.9 %||11.0 %||3.5 %||n/a|
|1983||49.6||9,207||6.0 %||9.9 %||4.4 %||n/a|
|1984||56.5||10,330||10.0 %||8.8 %||3.9 %||n/a|
|1985||58.7||10,602||0.7 %||3.5 %||3.2 %||n/a|
|1986||66.6||11,875||11.1 %||3.6 %||2.8 %||n/a|
|1987||77.4||13,732||13.4 %||5.7 %||1.7 %||n/a|
|1988||86.9||15,220||8.5 %||7.8 %||1.4 %||n/a|
|1989||92.4||16,017||2.3 %||10.2 %||1.1 %||n/a|
|1990||99.5||17,169||3.8 %||10.3 %||1.3 %||n/a|
|1991||108.6||18,548||5.7 %||11.2 %||1.8 %||n/a|
|1992||118.0||19,906||6.2 %||9.6 %||2.0 %||n/a|
|1993||128.3||21,245||6.2 %||8.8 %||2.0 %||n/a|
|1994||139.0||22,551||6.0 %||8.8 %||1.9 %||n/a|
|1995||145.2||23,001||2.4 %||9.0 %||3.2 %||n/a|
|1996||154.2||23,843||4.3 %||6.3 %||2.8 %||n/a|
|1997||164.8||25,292||5.1 %||5.8 %||2.2 %||n/a|
|1998||156.8||23,819||−5.9 %||2.8 %||4.7 %||n/a|
|1999||163.2||24,587||2.5 %||−4.0 %||6.2 %||n/a|
|2000||179.7||26,776||7.7 %||−3.7 %||4.9 %||n/a|
|2001||184.8||27,462||0.6 %||−1.6 %||5.1 %||3.3 %|
|2002||190.7||28,365||1.7 %||−3.0 %||7.3 %||3.5 %|
|2003||200.5||29,646||3.1 %||−2.6 %||7.9 %||1.6 %|
|2004||224.0||32,948||8.7 %||−0.4 %||6.8 %||1.5 %|
|2005||248.3||36,306||7.4 %||0.9 %||5.6 %||1.4 %|
|2006||273.9||39,668||5.7 %||2.0 %||4.8 %||1.1 %|
|2007||299.3||43,143||6.5 %||2.0 %||4.0 %||1.0 %|
|2008||311.7||44,761||2.1 %||4.3 %||3.5 %||0.9 %|
|2009||306.4||43,787||−2.6 %||0.6 %||5.3 %||0.7 %|
|2010||331.1||46,948||6.8 %||2.3 %||4.3 %||0.6 %|
|2011||354.2||49,819||4.8 %||5.3 %||3.4 %||0.6 %|
|2012||366.8||51,157||1.7 %||4.1 %||3.3 %||0.5 %|
|2013||384.3||53,299||3.1 %||4.3 %||3.4 %||0.5 %|
|2014||402.0||55,431||2.8 %||4.4 %||3.3 %||0.1 %|
|2015||416.1||56,924||2.4 %||3.0 %||3.3 %||0.1 %|
|2016||430.4||58,345||2.1 %||2.4 %||3.4 %||0.1 %|
|2017||454.9||61,393||3.8 %||1.5 %||3.1 %||0.1 %|
The international poverty line is a monetary threshold under which an individual is considered to be living in poverty. This threshold is calculated using Purchasing Power Parity. According to the World Bank, the international poverty line was most recently updated in October 2015, in which it was increased from $1.25 per day to $1.90 per day using the value of 2011 dollars. Raising this threshold helps account for changes in costs of living, which directly effects individuals ability to obtain basic necessities across countries. With Hong Kong being one of the largest and most expensive cities in the world, there is no surprise that a portion of the population is living in poverty.
Recent figures show that 1.37 million people are living below the poverty line and struggling to survive on HK$4,000 ($510 USD) per month for a one person household, HK$9,800 for a two-person household earning , and HK$15,000 or a three-person household. The poverty rate in Hong Kong hit a high of 20.1%, but recent efforts by government programs have lowered this number to 14.7%.
In December 2012, the Commission on Poverty (CoP) was reinstated to prevent and alleviate poverty with three primary functions; analyze the poverty situation, assist policy formulation and to assess policy effectiveness. Cash handouts have been credited with alleviating much of the poverty, but the extent in which poverty has been alleviated is still questionable. Although cash handouts raise households above the poverty line, they are still struggling to meet certain standards as the cost of living in Hong Kong steadily increases.
Coupled with these cash payments, statutory minimum wage is set to increase for a second time in the past 10 years. Statutory Minimum Wage (SMW) came into existence on May 1st 2011 and the SMW rate has been HK$34.5 per hour since May 2017. The Legislative Council in Hong Kong most recently approved the revision on the SMW rate to increase to HK$37.5 per hour, effective May 1st 2019. Although the total statistics for Hong Kong show declining poverty, child poverty has recently increased .3 percentage points, up to a total of 23.1%, as a result of larger households due to children staying with their elderly parents. With economic growth projected to slow in the coming years, poverty becomes an increasingly pressing issue.
Beyond benefiting the younger generation through cash handouts and minimum wage increases, expanded elderly allowances have been implemented to increase disposable incomes of the elderly population that can no longer work. As of February 1st 2019 the amount payable per month for eligible elderly population became HK$1,385 in an effort to raise households incomes living with elderly tenants. Although Hong Kong has become one of the largest growing cities in the world, much of the population is struggling to keep up with the rising costs of living.
One of the largest issues effecting low income families is the availability of affordable housing. Over the past decade, residential Hong Kong property prices have increased close to 242%, with growth finally starting to decelerate this year. Considering housing is a basic necessity, prices have continuously increased while disposable incomes remain virtually unchanged. As the amount of affordable housing diminishes, it has become much harder for families to find homes in their home country. Public housing programs have been implemented by the government, but delayed construction and growing waitlists have not helped to the extent they planned for. Recent results from a Hong Kong think tank show that by 2022, the average citizen could wait up to 6 years for public housing. Evidence shows that the availability of affordable housing has declined, forcing households to spend more on shelter and less on other necessities. These issues can lead to worse living conditions and imbalanced diets, both of which pose problems beyond just financial well being.
Black Saturday, 24 September 1983, is the name given to the crisis when the Hong Kong dollar exchange rate versus the United States dollar was at an all-time low. On that day, US$1 exchanged for HK$9.6. For a period, Hong Kong stores began quoting products in US dollar prices, because of the uncertain fluctuation in domestic currency.Brand Hong Kong
Brand Hong Kong (or BrandHK) was launched in 2001 as a government programme designed to promote Hong Kong as "Asia’s World City". The purpose of this concept is to create a reputation of Hong Kong as a top international city. This idea was formed after the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997, the event that made Hong Kong a special administrative region of China. The branding features Hong Kong as a place where "creativity, entrepreneurship, global connectivity, security and rich diversity".
In 2010, following a major review and public engagement exercise, BrandHK was updated, incorporating changes to its visual identity, core values, attributes and brand platform.Central, Hong Kong
Central (also Central District; Chinese: 中環) is the central business district of Hong Kong. It is located in Central and Western District, on the north shore of Hong Kong Island, across Victoria Harbour from Tsim Sha Tsui, the southernmost point of Kowloon Peninsula. The area was the heart of Victoria City, although that name is rarely used today.
As the central business district of Hong Kong, it is the area where many multinational financial services corporations have their headquarters. Consulates general and consulates of many countries are also located in this area, as is Government Hill, the site of the government headquarters. The area, with its proximity to Victoria Harbour, has served as the centre of trade and financial activities from the earliest days of the British colonial era in 1841, and continues to flourish and serve as the place of administration after the transfer of sovereignty to China in 1997.China Circle
The China Circle refers to the economic relationship between the PRC, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Professor Barry Naughton coined the term in his book, “The China Circle.”
During the 1960s and 1970s, Hong Kong and Taiwan specialized in labor-intensive manufactured exports that mainly went to the United States market. By the mid-1980s, however, rising land and labor costs, coupled with current realignments, created pressures for manufacturers to move to lower-cost locations. Additionally, national capabilities moved up as scientific education increased and commercial and financial experience accumulated. This created a “pull” for Hong Kong and Taiwan to move to high-skilled sectors.At the same time, China was opening up for foreign investment, and modeled parts of its economic reform after the successes of Taiwan and Hong Kong. This created an opportunity for Taiwan and Hong Kong firms to move their labor-intensive operations to their lower-cost neighbor, China. In the end, this created a regional production chain whereby Hong Kong and Taiwan specialized in high-value services and technology-intensive production and while the PRC took on the more labor-intensive manufacturing. This economic network is now known as “The China Circle.”Naughton attributes this move to three main factors. First, there was a global trend in increased intra-industry trade. Second, labor and land costs in China were low and access was made relatively open. Third, the common language and customs made cultural entry costs cheap.Dong River (China)
The Dong River is the eastern tributary of the Pearl River in Guangdong province, southern China. The other two main tributaries of Pearl River are Xi River and Bei River. The headwater is located in Mount Sanbai (三百山) in Anyuan County, Jiangxi.
The Dong River is a major source of water for Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Government has purchased Dong River water from Guangdong since 1965. Over 70% of domestic water in Hong Kong is imported from the Dong River. Its discharge is about 807.5 cubic metres per second (28,520 cu ft/s).Economic Development and Labour Bureau
The Economic Development and Labour Bureau (Chinese: 經濟發展及勞工局), headed by the Secretary for Economic Development and Labour, was responsible for economic development and labour issues in the Hong Kong Government.
It was abolished on 1 July 2007, with its functions transferred to the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, Transport and Housing Bureau and Labour and Welfare Bureau.
Before the Principal Officials Accountability System was introduced on 1 July 2002, it was known Economic Services Bureau. Responsibilities with labour issues were then the portfolio of the former Education and Manpower Bureau.
The following departments used to report to the Secretary for Economic Development and Labour:
Civil Aviation Department (transferred to Transport and Housing Bureau on 1 July 2007)
Marine Department (transferred to Transport and Housing Bureau on 1 July 2007)
Hongkong Post (transferred to Commerce and Economic Development Bureau on 1 July 2007)
Hong Kong Observatory (transferred to Commerce and Economic Development Bureau on 1 July 2007)
Labour Department (transferred to Labour and Welfare Bureau on 1 July 2007)
Tourism Commission (transferred to Commerce and Economic Development Bureau on 1 July 2007)Permanent secretaries
Sandra Lee (2002-2006)
Eva Cheng (2006-2007)Labour (who doubled as the Commission of Labour):
Matthew Cheung (2002-2007)
Paul Tang (2007)Employment in Hong Kong
This page gives detailed information on the employment situation in Hong Kong.Hong (business)
A Hong (Chinese: 行; pinyin: háng; Jyutping: haang4) was a large general trading house in Canton (now known as Guangzhou), Guangdong, China, in the 19th century. The first hongs were led by Howqua as head of the cohong.Hong Kong shipping register
The port of Hong Kong is a deep water port located in southern China. It is one of the hub ports serving the South-East and East Asia region, and is a gateway to mainland China. The city of Hong Kong began as a colony of the United Kingdom. It was a free port, and became an international trade center connecting land and sea transport between China and other countries. The port has mature infrastructure and well-developed air-sea-land transport. It helps Hong Kong maintain its position on international trade centre and transshipment hub.
As part of the 1997 transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong from Britain to China, the ship registration system has made some adjustments. In 1990, the Marine Department set up a separate system for the Hong Kong Shipping Register. The ordinance of Hong Kong Ship Registration was amended accordingly.List of Hong Kong people by net worth
The following is a Forbes list of Hong Kong billionaires is based on an annual assessment of wealth and assets compiled and published by Forbes magazine on March 3, 2015.List of companies of Hong Kong
Hong Kong is an autonomous territory of the People's Republic of China on the Pearl River Delta of East Asia. Hong Kong is one of the world's most significant financial centres, with the highest Financial Development Index score and consistently ranks as the world's most competitive and freest economic entity. As world's 8th largest trading entity, its legal tender, the Hong Kong dollar, is the world's 13th most traded currency. Hong Kong's tertiary sector dominated economy is characterised by simple taxation with a competitive level of corporate tax and supported by its independent judiciary system. However, while Hong Kong has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, it suffers from severe income inequality.For further information on the types of business entities in this country and their abbreviations, see "Business entities in Hong Kong".Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement
The Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, or Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) for short, is an economic agreement between the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China, signed on 29 June 2003. A similar agreement, known as the Mainland and Macau Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, was signed between the Government of the Macau Special Administrative Region and the Central People's Government on 18 October 2003.
Regular supplements have been signed between the Mainland and Hong Kong governments, including Supplement VIII (also referred to as CEPA VIII), which was signed on 13 December 2011 and implemented from 1 April 2012. The most recent supplement, Supplement X, was signed on 29 August 2013.The two agreements and additional supplements were signed in the Chinese language; the Chinese text is therefore the authoritative text. The Hong Kong government generally provides a courtesy English translation, as English is one of the official languages of Hong Kong.In the full name of "CEPA", the "Mainland" refers to the customs territory of the People's Republic of China.McRefugee
McRefugees is a neologism and McWord referring to those who stay overnight in a 24-hour McDonald's fast food restaurant.The term was first created in Japanese language: マック難民 (makku nanmin). That term had been largely replaced by ネットカフェ難民 (nettokafe nanmin), literally "net cafe refugee". In Japan, most McDonald's restaurants are operated around the clock. Due to unemployment and high rents and transportation costs in Japan, McRefugees choose to stay at a McDonald's overnight.
The phenomenon and word spread to Hong Kong as 麥難民 (mahk naahn màhn), where some McRefugees play video games and are known as McGamers. McDonald's opened 24-hour branches in mainland China in September 2006, which quickly attracted McRefugees.In early October 2015, the death of a woman in a 24-hour Hong Kong McDonald's restaurant in Kowloon Bay brought attention to the problem of McRefugees. McRefugees can be found in other 24-hour branches as well. Among the more than 1,600 homeless people in Hong Kong in 2015, about 250 were McRefugees.In 2018, A study conducted by the Society for Community Organization found that there were 384 McRefugees in Hong Kong. In August of the same year, a movie concerning about this topic started to film in Hong Kong, with the title "I'm living it", mimicing the slogan of the restaurant "I'm loving it".Mining in Hong Kong
Mining in Hong Kong refers to mining activities in Hong Kong. Despite its small size, Hong Kong has a relatively large number of mineral deposits. Although some have been mined commercially, there are currently no commercial mining operations in Hong Kong.Outward Processing Arrangement
The Outward Processing Arrangement (OPA) concerns the textile industry in Hong Kong and the People's Republic of China. It states that Hong Kong manufacturers can subcontract subsidiary and finishing processes to mainland factories, as long as the "major transformation" of the garment takes place in Hong Kong. Major transformation, however, only needs to amount to 10% of total cloth processing. Any products exported to China for outward processing must be reimported to Hong Kong within 2 months. Effective from 10 June 2005, Hong Kong manufacturers can apply to the Trade and Industry Department of Hong Kong for exemption of export duty in association with the processed garments as they are being exported from China.Positive non-interventionism
Positive non-interventionism was the economic policy of Hong Kong; this policy can be traced back to the time when Hong Kong was under British rule. It was first officially implemented in 1971 by Financial Secretary of Hong Kong John Cowperthwaite, who observed that the economy was doing well in the absence of government intervention but it was important to create the regulatory and physical infrastructure to facilitate market-based decision making. The policy was continued by subsequent Financial Secretaries, including Sir Philip Haddon-Cave. Economist Milton Friedman has cited it as a fairly comprehensive implementation of laissez-faire policy, although Haddon-Cave has stated that the description of Hong Kong as a laissez-faire society was "frequent but inadequate".Revenue stamps of Hong Kong
Hong Kong issued revenue stamps from 1867 to the 1990s, both when it was a British colony as well as when it was under Japanese occupation.Tai-pan
A tai-pan (Chinese: 大班; Sidney Lau: daai6baan1, literally 'top class') is a senior business executive or entrepreneur operating in China or Hong Kong.Ting Hai effect
The Ting Hai effect, also known as the Adam Cheng effect, is a stock market phenomenon in which there is a sudden and unexplained drop in the stock market whenever a film or a television series starring Hong Kong actor Adam Cheng is released. It still remains as a popular topic among stock brokers, years after the television drama The Greed of Man was broadcast in Hong Kong in late 1992. The effect is named after Ting Hai, the primary antagonist in the drama, who was portrayed by Cheng.
Economy of Hong Kong
|Industry and Business|
|Employment and Tax|
|Finance and Banking|