The amount of seaborne cargo discharged in Hong Kong in the fourth quarter of 1989 decreased slightly from the corresponding 1988 period, and more sharply

from the third quarter of last year.

A compilation by the Census & Statistics Department shows incoming freight down 3 percent from the 1988 fourth quarter. In the third quarter of last year, such traffic was up 4 percent on a year earlier.Outbound, volume in the fourth quarter was up 11 percent over the 1988 period. In the third quarter, it was up 12 percent on a year earlier.

These quarterly reports don't give base figures. They are based on samples of ship manifests and other statutory documents lodged with the Marine Department.

The fourth quarter of 1989 saw 4,606 ships with total capacity of 27.9 million net registered tons call at Hong Kong. That was up 7 percent in number and 5 percent in capacity over the 1988 period.

Of incoming goods, 85 percent was for Hong Kong and 15 percent for transshipment, about the same as in the third quarter. Outbound cargo was 62 percent exports and re-exports and 38 percent transshipment, also little changed.

The primary sources of seaborne imports in the final period of last year were Singapore (20 percent), Japan (14 percent) and China (13 percent). The United States accounted for 6 percent, down from 5 percent in the third quarter.

Growth in seaborne imports in the fourth quarter was most marked from Singapore (up 21 percent), China (up 20 percent) and Indonesia (up 19 percent). U.S.-origin shipments gained 14 percent. There were decreases from fourth-quarter 1988 in shipments from Australia (down 33 percent), South Africa (down 21 percent) and Taiwan (down 14 percent).

By commodity, the greatest increase in ship-carried imports was among cork and wood manufactures other than furniture (up 47 percent) and petroleum and products (up 45 percent). There were decreases in iron and steel (down 44 percent); coal, coke and briquettes (down 20 percent); and inorganic chemicals (down 19 percent).

The principal points of discharge for seaborne exports were the United States (21 percent), China (18 percent) and Taiwan (11 percent). Those rankings were unchanged from a year earlier.

The export side showed main growth in shipments to West Germany (up 46 percent), the United States (up 31 percent) and China (up 29 percent). Movements decreased to Britain (down 13 percent) and South Korea (down 10 percent).

Outbound traffic grew fastest in petroleum and products (up 75 percent), vegetables and fruit (up 29 percent) and garments (up 27 percent).

Transshipment cargo originated primarily in China (34 percent) and the United States (16 percent).