Swiss watch exports to Hong Kong, the sector's biggest market, plunged 11.4 percent in 2019 due to a wave of pro-democracy protests there, the Swiss watch industry federation said Tuesday.

Overall, however, watch exports were up by 2.4 percent to 21.7 billion Swiss francs (20.3 billion euros, 22.4 billion US dollars) because of growth in other Asian markets and the United States, the industry's second biggest market.

"Hong Kong weighed on the 2019 numbers... and as long as the turbulence continues, the situation will be difficult," federation head Jean-Daniel Pasche told AFP.

Hong Kong has been shaken by months of huge and often violent pro-democracy protests, the most severe challenge to Beijing's rule since the former British colony's 1997 handover to China.

Pasche said the sector was also watching closely for any impact from the deadly virus outbreak in China but "for the moment we still cannot evaluate the situation".

Ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, December figures showed exports to China went up 49.4 percent over the month.

The federation said annual exports grew by 8.6 percent to the United States and by 16.1 percent to China, with Japan also up 19.9 percent and Singapore 14.6 percent.

Growth was far slower in European markets, with France and Germany up by only 0.2 percent.

Britain was the exception with growth of 10.8 percent and Italy rose 4.2 percent.(AFP)

 

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