HONG KONG (AP) -- Hong Kong's exports plummeted by the most in over 50 years last month as the worsening economic crisis choked off demand for goods from the southern Chinese trading hub, the government said Thursday.
The total value of the territory's exports plunged 21.8 percent in January compared to the same period last year, amounting to nearly $187.8 billion Hong Kong dollars (about $24 billion), according to government data.
The decline marked Hong Kong's steepest since March 1958, though it may have been exaggerated by the pause in economic activity during the Lunar New Year holiday, the government said.
Asia's export-driven economies are reeling as overseas consumers curb their spending in the face of global economic decay. Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and other countries also suffered precipitous drops in exports last month.
Hong Kong's economy, already in recession, is expected to shrink by as much as 3 percent for all of 2009 -- its first yearly contraction since the Asian financial crisis in 1998.