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China's foreign trade grows at faster pace despite challenges

Xinhua | May 9, 2023


China's foreign trade grew at a faster pace in the first four months of the year amid uncertain external demand, trade risks and other challenges.

China's total imports and exports expanded 5.8 percent year on year to 13.32 trillion yuan (about 1.92 trillion U.S. dollars) in the period, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) said Tuesday. The growth rate accelerated by 1 percentage point from the pace recorded in the first quarter.

The country's foreign trade maintained sound momentum of steady growth, said Lyu Daliang, an official with the GAC.

China's total imports and exports expanded 5.8 percent year on year to 13.32 trillion yuan in the first four months of 2023, official data showed Tuesday. (Xinhua)

From January to April, the growth rate of China's trade with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union stood at 13.9 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively, the data showed.

China's trade with Belt and Road (B&R) countries jumped by 16 percent year on year to 4.61 trillion yuan in the period.

In particular, the country's trade with five Central Asian countries -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan -- surged 37.4 percent year on year.

In the January-April period, private enterprises saw a fast growth rate as imports and exports increased by 15.8 percent to 7.05 trillion yuan, accounting for more than half of the country's total.

In terms of types of goods, exports of mechanical and electrical products expanded by 10.5 percent to account for 57.9 percent of the total exports.

Driven by robust exports of new energy vehicles, automobile exports soared 120.3 percent year on year during the period.

A monthly customs survey showed that the proportion of enterprises with growing export orders had increased for four consecutive months.

In April alone, foreign trade increased 8.9 percent year on year, according to the GAC.

This aerial photo taken on Jan. 13, 2023 shows a view of the container terminal of Haikou Port in Haikou, south China's Hainan Province. (Xinhua/Pu Xiaoxu)

China has recently introduced new policies to stabilize the scale of foreign trade and improve its structure, which will help boost confidence and vitality of foreign trade enterprises and promote the stability and quality of foreign trade throughout the year, Lyu said.

To keep the scale of foreign trade stable, China will resume offline exhibitions and international passenger flights, carry out measures on the country-specific trade guidelines, help automobile enterprises establish and improve the international marketing service system, and meet the financing needs of medium, small and micro enterprises.

To improve foreign trade structure, China will guide processing trade to be transferred to the central, western and northeastern regions, formulate green and low-carbon standards for some foreign trade products, guide enterprises to make good use of cross-border e-commerce retail export related tax policies and improve the efficiency of customs clearance.

People visit the 133rd session of China Import and Export Fair, also known as Canton Fair, in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, April 15, 2023. (Xinhua/Liu Dawei)

Despite difficulties in the sector, China's foreign trade has exhibited notable resilience and is expected to maintain steady growth, analysts said.

Looking forward, China's imports and exports are expected to achieve double-digit growth throughout the year, indicating that foreign trade could continue to be strong support for the country's economic development, said Wei Jianguo, vice chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.

Meanwhile, officials and analysts warned of challenges including global inflation, weakening external demand, and global uncertainties from protectionism and geopolitical risks.

According to the International Monetary Fund forecast in April, the world economy might grow 2.8 percent in 2023, 0.1 percentage points lower than its January forecast.

"Trade continues to be a force for resilience in the global economy, but it will remain under pressure from external factors in 2023," said Director-General of the World Trade Organization Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

"This makes it even more important for governments to avoid trade fragmentation and refrain from introducing obstacles to trade. Investing in multilateral cooperation on trade would bolster economic growth and people's living standards over the long term," she added.