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Country Forecast Hong Kong March 2018 Updater

Country Forecast Hong Kong March 2018 Updater

  • March 2018
  • ID: 5370298

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  • Carrie Lam will serve as the territory's chief executive until at least 2022. Major changes in policy are unlikely under her administration. However, Ms Lam will make improving education a priority. The Economist Intelligence Unit believes that she will successfully resist pressure from the central Chinese government to implement anti-subversion legislation in the next five years.
  • Ms Lam's government will promote increased construction of residential housing in order to improve property affordability. Within public housing, it will put more emphasis on increasing the supply of rental units rather than units for sale. We expect housing policy to remain a source of public discontent.
  • A failure to meet public expectations or present a convincing vision for Hong Kong's future role will sap support for Ms Lam's government and feed anti-China sentiment. This will boost the so-called localists in the opposition camp, who seek more self-determination for the territory. The localists' rise will put even more strain on relations between Hong Kong and the mainland-Chinese authorities. The central government's efforts to curb their participation in mainstream politics in Hong Kong will risk further radicalising the opposition.
  • The peg between the Hong Kong dollar and the US dollar will be maintained in 2018-22, at a rate of around HK$7.8:US$1. However, by 2030 we expect the local currency to be pegged instead to the renminbi, reflecting deepening financial and political links with the Chinese mainland.
  • The budget surplus will fall in fiscal year 2018/19 (April-March) as a decline in property prices drives down the value of land sales, reducing government revenue. Faster economic growth will support a gradual increase in the size of the fiscal surplus in 2019/20-2022/23.
  • We forecast that, after reaching an estimated 3.8% in 2017, economic expansion will slow in 2018. A downturn in the US in 2020 will subdue growth in Hong Kong's exports in that year. Nonetheless, and despite the negative impact of a downturn in the local property market in 2018-19, annual economic growth in 2018-22 will average a robust 2.9%.
  • The trade deficit will widen steadily in 2018-22, with growth in imports being lifted partly by higher global oil prices and partly by steady growth in domestic demand. However, a rising surplus on the territory's trade in services and on its primary income balance will ensure that the current-account surplus remains large.






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