The value of Hong Kong\'s total exports of goods rose 15.2 percent in September from a year ago to 313.2 billion HK dollars (about 40.4 billion U.S. dollars), after a 0.6 percent increase in August, the city\'s statistics department said on Thursday. Within the total, the value of re-exports increased 15.3 percent to 307.8 billion HK dollars, and the value of domestic exports climbed 10.2 percent to 5.4 billion HK dollars. The values of total imports of goods rose 14.9 percent from a year earlier to 358.3 billion HK dollars, bringing a trade deficit of 45.2 billion HK dollars. A government spokesman said the year-on-year growth of merchandise exports picked up notably in September, helped in part by the distinctly low base of comparison in the same month of last year and in part by some improvements in such major markets as the Chinese mainland and the United States. Looking ahead, the spokesman said although the more recent economic data for the Chinese mainland and the United States tended to indicate some pick-up, the global economic environment is still fraught with downside risks stemming from the euro debt crisis and looming U.S. fiscal cliff, while Hong Kong\'s trade outlook for the near term remains challenging. The total exports to Asia as a whole grew 20.1 percent from a year ago, with exports to the Philippines rising 25.7 percent, followed by the Chinese mainland 25.5 percent, Vietnam 18.7 percent and Singapore 16.8 percent. Exports to the United States rose 9.0 percent from a year earlier, followed by the United Kingdom 5.1 percent. For the first nine months of 2012, the values of total exports of goods rose 1.5 percent year-on-year, with the value of re- exports increasing 1.8 percent and that of domestic exports decreasing 13.1 percent. Concurrently, the value of imports of goods increased 2.5 percent, brining a visible trade deficit of 342.9 billion HK dollars in the first nine months.