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China's foreign trade rebounds amid stronger economic recovery momentum


China's foreign trade rebounded in May, a sign of overall recovery as the government's policy package to stabilize the economy while containing COVID-19 resurgences started to pay off.

XinhuaUpdated:  June 10, 2022

China's foreign trade rebounded in May, a sign of overall recovery as the government's policy package to stabilize the economy while containing COVID-19 resurgences started to pay off.

The country's total imports and exports went up 9.6 percent year on year to 3.45 trillion yuan last month on top of April's 0.1-percent expansion, official data showed Thursday.

In the first five months of 2022, the country's foreign trade volume gained 8.3 percent year on year to 16.04 trillion yuan, outpacing the 7.9-percent growth in the January-April period, according to the General Administration of Customs (GAC).

In U.S. dollar terms, total foreign trade came in at 2.51 trillion U.S. dollars in the five-month period, up 10.3 percent year on year.

Aerial photo taken on May 21, 2022 shows a China-Laos cargo train departing from a station in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality. (Xinhua/Tang Yi)

In the first five months, exports grew 11.4 percent year on year while imports rose 4.7 percent, leading to a trade surplus of 1.84 trillion yuan, customs data showed.

During this period, China's trade with its top three trading partners -- the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the European Union, and the United States -- expanded by 8.1 percent, 7 percent, and 10.1 percent from a year ago, respectively.

From January to May, China's trade with Belt and Road countries jumped 16.8 percent year on year to 5.11 trillion yuan.

Private enterprises reported a faster growth as their imports and exports rose 11.8 percent to 7.86 trillion yuan in the first five months, accounting for 49 percent of the country's total, marking an increase of 1.5 percentage points from the same period last year.

Workers make clothes for export at a company in Taihe County, east China's Anhui Province, May 26, 2022. (Photo by Liang Xiaopeng/Xinhua)


The rebound came as the Chinese government beefed up support to help foreign trade firms navigate difficulties amid domestic COVID-19 resurgences and external uncertainties.

The State Council, China's cabinet, issued a guideline last month to improve services and provide more financial and fiscal support for foreign trade enterprises, which was followed by detailed policies from 27 government departments.

These measures mainly focused on smoothing foreign trade logistics, strengthening financial support for foreign trade firms, and stabilizing the industrial and supply chains of foreign trade.

"Implemented together, these policies will surely promote foreign trade growth," Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen told a press conference this week, who cautioned over uncertainties such as the fragile world economic recovery and rising global inflation.

The foundation has been consolidated for stabilizing and improving the quality of foreign trade this year, said Li Kuiwen, an official with the GAC, who expected the momentum to sustain as support measures take further effect.

A State Council executive meeting on Wednesday has also pledged more to be done, including increasing tax-refund support for export companies, expanding high-quality products import, enhancing port services, and keeping international industrial and supply chains stable.

Photo taken on May 1, 2022 shows a container vessel docking at the Qianwan Container Terminal in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province. (Xinhua/Li Ziheng)


The May trade figure also adds to the evidence indicating that the Chinese economy is gradually shaking off the COVID-19 impacts and regaining momentum.

In another sign of recovery, the China Bulk Merchandise Index, a gauge of domestic bulk commodity market growth, gained 1.6 percentage points in May from the previous month to stand at 101.3 percent, showing improvements in both factory production and market demand.

Fast-moving overseas investors have already started to buy more equities in China as the policy stimulus and hints of a strong recovery boosted their confidence.

According to data from the Institute of International Finance, foreign capital has been pulling out of the emerging markets in May, but China's equities posted about 2.7 billion U.S. dollars in inflows.

In its latest China Economic Update released Wednesday, the World Bank said that helped by its policy stimulus to mitigate the economic downturn, China's growth momentum is expected to rebound in the second half of this year.

Structural reforms to encourage a shift toward consumption, address social inequality, and rekindle innovation and productivity growth, including technologies vital for China's dual carbon goals, would help achieve a more balanced, inclusive, and sustainable growth trajectory for the country, the report said.