Hong Kong ends longest recession in decades

HONG KONG (AFP) – Hong Kong’s economy jumped back into growth in the first quarter of the year, official figures showed yesterday, 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 United States (US)-China 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 2007-08 global crash. That came to an end yesterday 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.

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.

Pedestrians walk on a street in Hong Kong. PHOTO: AFP