Around 70.2 per cent of interviewed companies in the industrial exports sector said they had difficulty hiring workers during the fourth quarter of last year, according to the most recent industrial export industry survey released by the Macao Economic Services (DSE). This is a 21 per cent increase from that registered in the third quarter and a 14.8 per cent increase year-on-year.
The survey results indicated that the garment manufacturing industry had the greatest demand for manpower, with some 75.6 per cent of the survey respondents expressing a need for workers during the quarter.
Of all the factors affecting exports in the quarter, the DSE figures showed that 22 per cent of companies considered insufficient labour as their greatest challenge. Meanwhile, 77.7 per cent of respondents noted that increased prices of raw materials during the fourth quarter were the major issue.
In regards to possible challenges in the coming three months, 75.3 per cent of exporters opined that they expect the rising price of raw materials to be their main concern. Increasing wages (29.4 per cent), insufficient labour (25.7 per cent) and growing competitiveness in foreign pricing (20.6 per cent) were also noted as other primary concerns of the responding companies.
Industrial orders by local companies, meanwhile, saw a decrease in their waiting times, posting a 19.2 per cent drop both quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year during the fourth quarter.
The average waiting time for orders dipped from the 2.6 months registered in both the third quarter of 2016 and the fourth quarter of 2015, to 2.1 months.
The pharmaceutical products manufacturing sector registered the longest waiting times, at 3.3 months in the last quarter of 2016. Nonetheless, this figure represents declines of 32.7 per cent quarter-on-quarter and 34 per cent year-on-year, according to the data.
Exports to remain the same
As for performance prospects in the coming six months, 64.5 per cent of responding companies predicted that exports would remain unchanged, a drop of 6.9 percentage points when compared to 71.4 per cent in the previous quarter.
Meanwhile, the number of companies expecting better performances for exports saw an increase of 7.6 percentage points quarter-on-quarter to 26.1 per cent.
The interviewed companies anticipating a less favourable outlook, according to the DSE figures, took up 9.4 per cent of the survey respondents, down 0.8 percentage points quarter-on-quarter and 19 percentage points when compared to the same period in 2015.
Good market in the mainland and U.S.
The DSE quarterly survey revealed that there was an increased demand for the city’s exports from Mainland China and the United States, with the general index of orders standing at 23.4 and 18.7, respectively.
In contrast, Japan posted the poorest performance in terms of the volume of orders, with an index of -14.3.
The report notes that locally-made electronic gadgets, tobacco and pharmaceutical products were among the most exported products in the fourth quarter of 2017.