| A Faster Pace of Recovery
2. Throughout last year, the
forces propelling Hong Kong's economic recovery strengthened
considerably. Despite negative factors such as oil price
hikes, we achieved a growth rate of 7.5%. We can say
that our economy is now at its best since the Asian
3. It is noteworthy that the major driving force of
our economic recovery has come from both strong external
demand and strengthening local demand. As the Mainland
and other major world economies have simultaneously
achieved fast growth seldom seen in recent years, demand
for our products and services has increased drastically.
As a result, many of our economic indicators last year
registered double-digit growth. Exports of goods grew
15% in real terms during the first 11 months; exports
of services increased by nearly 17% in the first three
quarters and visitor arrivals exceeded 21 million, a
surge of nearly 40% compared to 2003. There was a 7.4%
hike in private consumption expenditure during the first
three quarters, the highest rise in the past decade.
Investment in machinery and equipment rose by 18% in
real terms in the first three quarters. The number of
overseas and Mainland enterprises setting up business
in Hong Kong increased continuously, registering an
increase of 12.5% over 2003. The total of 3 609 firms
marked a historical high.
4. We can see that following the attack of SARS in
2003, the community has quickly regained its confidence.
Local consumption and investment activities have been
picking up, reversing the sluggish domestic demand that
persisted over the past few years. This has made the
current economic recovery more broad based and sustainable,
its foundation more solid.