In the short term there are many reasons to be positive. Every major sector is now talking optimistically about prospects for the rest of the year and planning for expansion, better revenues, and the creation of new jobs.
Indeed, the SCMP/admanGo report, which tracks job vacancies advertised in the seven recruitment publications in Hong Kong, already reflects a solid increase in hiring. It shows 33,430 positions on offer in the first quarter, marking a 22.8 per cent increase from the 27,228 vacancies of last year's final quarter. This also represents a jump of 42 per cent from the 23,508 jobs advertised in the first three months of last year. This is still a long way behind the 76,111 positions advertised in the first quarter of 2008.
For Stanley Lau Chin-ho, deputy chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, a key source of encouragement is the continuing rise in export figures. With an estimated two-thirds of the local economy built on trade and manufacturing activity, this is always one of the most valuable measures of relative strength and progress.
What Lau sees is that sectors such as garments, electronics, toys and watches are all receiving positive feedback from overseas markets and recording a steady pick-up in orders.
"This shows that buyers are coming back," Lau says. "Based on the response from customers and the number of orders for different industries, we are quite optimistic and predict the situation will be even better in the second half of the year." He says local companies need to take advantage of the mainland's domestic market and develop strategies, sales networks and brands to do it properly.
"I think everyone agrees China is one of the markets with the most potential," Lau says. "But the way to develop a presence and sell your products is totally different from exporting to the US or European markets. It takes time and a lot of money, so Hong Kong companies should be ready to [allocate] resourc