Hong Kong ends longest recession in decades

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Hong Kong's economy grew 7.8 percent on year in the first three months of 2021. AFP

Hong Kong's economy jumped back into growth in the first quarter of this year, official figures showed on May 3, ending the city's most pronounced period of recession in its modern history.

The international financial hub has been battered the last two years by a triple whammy of the Sino-US trade war, months of social unrest and then the coronavirus pandemic.

 

It recorded six consecutive quarters of negative growth, a more prolonged downturn than during both the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the 2007-2008 global crash.

That came to an end on May 3 when the government announced the economy grew 7.8 per cent on year in the first three months of 2021.

Hong Kong was one of the few places in the world unlucky enough to enter the coronavirus pandemic already mired in a deep recession.

In 2019, months of huge and often violent pro-democracy protests coincided with swirling trade tensions between Beijing and the US, pummelling the economy that acts as an international gateway to China.

The city was among the first places outside mainland China to record a coronavirus infection, and the economy plunged by a record-breaking 9.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2020.

Since then, Hong Kong has managed to keep the virus' spread down to a little more than 11,000 infections thanks to strict quarantine and economically punishing social distancing measures.

 

This year's economic rebound was largely sparked by a sharp resurgence in exports fuelled by recoveries in both China and the US.

Financial secretary Paul Chan has forecast full-year growth of 3.5 to 5.5 per cent in 2021.