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China's foreign trade shows resilience amid pandemic


China's foreign trade sustained resilience and growth momentum in the first four months of the year despite COVID-19 resurgences in many provincial-level regions.

XinhuaUpdated:  May 10, 2022

China's foreign trade sustained resilience and growth momentum in the first four months of the year despite COVID-19 resurgences in many provincial-level regions.

In the January-April period, China's total imports and exports expanded 7.9 percent year on year to 12.58 trillion yuan, the General Administration of Customs said Monday.

In U.S. dollar terms, total foreign trade came in at 1.98 trillion U.S. dollars in the period, up 10.1 percent year on year.

Exports grew 10.3 percent year on year to 6.97 trillion yuan, while imports rose 5 percent to 5.61 trillion yuan in the period, leading to a trade surplus of 1.36 trillion yuan, the data showed.

China's trade with its top three trading partners -- the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the European Union, and the United States -- maintained growth momentum.

During the period, the growth rates of China's trade value with these three trading partners stood at 7.2 percent, 6.8 percent and 8.7 percent, respectively, customs data showed.

Private enterprises saw a fast growth rate as imports and exports increased by 11 percent to 6.1 trillion yuan in the first four months, accounting for 48.5 percent of the country's total.

The imports and exports of foreign-invested firms and that of state-owned enterprises rose 2.2 percent and 14.1 percent, respectively.

Exports of mechanical and electrical products expanded by 6.7 percent to account for 57.9 percent of the total, while exports of labor-intensive products increased 9.2 percent in the first four months.

In April alone, the country's foreign trade volume edged up 0.1 percent year on year to 3.16 trillion yuan, with the exports up 1.9 percent year on year while imports dropping by 2 percent from a year ago.

On a monthly basis, China's foreign trade contracted 1.5 percent last month, with exports down 0.6 percent and imports declining 2.5 percent.

"China's foreign trade faces a grim and complex development environment," said Zhuang Rui, a professor at the University of International Business and Economics. She attributed the slowdown in foreign trade growth to a high comparison base and unexpected factors such as the epidemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

"The resurgence of the pandemic in major export cities directly affected exports," said analysts with Hongta Securities in a research note.

However, virus-caused disturbances to China's foreign trade will diminish as the pandemic is gradually brought under control and domestic supply chains and industrial chains recover, according to the note.

On Thursday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang specified policy steps to stabilize foreign trade amid efforts to smoothen industrial and supply chains while chairing a State Council executive meeting.

The meeting decided to ensure stability in the production and circulation of foreign trade, work out lists of key foreign trade enterprises and support their production, logistics and employment.

"Dedicated efforts should be made to retain orders and stabilize imports and exports of key industries and labor-intensive processing industries. This is crucial to stabilizing employment," Li said at the meeting.