GDP: $1.86 billion/$26,000 per capita (2002). GDP Change: -3 percent Population: 7.4 million Unemployment: 7.5 percent Textile & Apparel Exports to the U.S.: $3.82 billion, down 5.3 percent.* Key Products: Cotton pants, cotton knit shirts, man-made fiber blouses. Currency: 7.76 Hong Kong dollars = $1 U.S. Major Companies: Li & Fung, Newtimes, Esquel, Luen Thai, TAL Apparel
Hong Kong served as a British trading colony for 156 years, until reverting to Chinese control in 1997. Today, its formal name is the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and it’s treated under China’s “one country, two systems” policy, which allows the territory to maintain its own rules and regulations on all issues not related to foreign affairs or defense. For much of the second half of the 20th century, Hong Kong served as a major manufacturing center for all kinds of consumer products, though the cost of operating there started to rise in the 1980s, and much manufacturing activity began to migrate out of the territory and into China and other Southeast Asian nations. One sign of how the territory’s role has changed is that today many garment-sourcing companies occupy offices in Kowloon lofts that were originally home to manufacturing lines. Today, the service industry dominates the densely populated territory’s economy, producing 86.5 percent of the GDP. With 402 square miles of rugged land, Hong Kong is only a third larger than New York City and supports a comparably sized population. Hong Kong remains a significant source of garments for the U.S., though —?it is the third-ranked importing nation, with 5 percent market share. The SARS epidemic took a severe toll on Hong Kong’s travel-dependent economy, as both business and vacation travelers stayed away, leaving empty conference rooms, convention center halls and hotels and a shaken populace. With the disease cleaned up for the moment, activity in the territory has picked up again, though some worry that the pneumonia-like illness could return this winter.
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