Hong Kong’s car imports from the Middle East jumped by 230 per cent in the first 10 months of 1993, accounting for a third of all imports from the region. This resulted in a 13.6 per cent drop in Hong Kong’s trade surplus compared with the corresponding period of 1992.

Total imports rose by 41 per cent to $1,160 million. Car sales from the UAE, Hong Kong’s most important supplier in the region, reached $328 million for January-October last year, an increase of almost 250 per cent. This accounted for 59 per cent of total UAE exports to Hong Kong. Kuwait’s car exports rose to $12.3 million, or 70 per cent of total sales to Hong Kong. The cars are mostly destined for China, which does not have access to top-of-the-range Japanese cars directly from Japan, trade observers say.

Pearls, precious and semi-precious stones still top Hong Kong’s Middle East shopping list, reaching $466 million over the period, or 40 per cent of the total. Hong Kong re-exported 14.8 per cent of its Middle East imports, slightly less than last year.