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April 14, 2021

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Private firms big players in China foreign trade growth

CHINA’S foreign trade surged in the first quarter of 2021, as the country made continuous progress in COVID-19 prevention and control, as well as economic and social development.

The total imports and exports of goods surged 29.2 percent year on year to 8.47 trillion yuan (US$1.29 trillion) in the reporting period, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Exports jumped 38.7 percent from a year earlier and imports climbed 19.3 percent in yuan terms. The trade surplus expanded 690.6 percent to reach 759.29 billion yuan.

In March alone, China’s exports in dollar terms soared 30.6 percent in March from a year earlier while imports jumped 38.1 percent year on year last month, the fastest pace since February 2017 on high commodity prices. It is another boost to the nation’s economic recovery, signaling improving global demand amid progress in worldwide COVID-19 vaccination.

General trade, involving longer production chains and better reflecting the country’s manufacturing strength, rose 32 percent year on year to 5.19 trillion yuan in the first quarter, taking a larger share in the total trade of goods.

Private enterprises are now more vibrant and have become the main driving force behind China’s foreign trade growth. Their foreign trade expanded by 42.7 percent to 3.95 trillion yuan in the first quarter.

Mechanical and electrical products took the lion’s share of the country’s exports, with their export value hitting 2.78 trillion yuan, up 43 percent year on year.

Imports of major commodities including iron ore, crude oil, natural gas, soybean, corn and wheat all increased in the first quarter.

Foreign trade in the country’s comprehensive bonded zones and pilot free trade zones respectively increased 41.1 percent and 28.4 percent year on year.

Cross-border e-commerce, an emerging form of trade, has maintained the growth momentum of last year to become one of the main forces pushing the steady growth of China’s foreign trade, according to the GAC.

The country’s foreign trade from cross-border e-commerce hiked 46.5 percent to 419.5 billion yuan year on year in the first quarter.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations remained China’s largest trading partner during the period, followed by the European Union and the United States, the GAC data showed.

In the first quarter, China’s trade with countries along the Belt and Road rose 21.4 percent year on year to reach 2.5 trillion yuan.

The country’s imports and exports to Vietnam, Indonesia and Poland achieved relatively rapid growth.

China’s trade with the 14 other members of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership amounted to 2.67 trillion yuan in the first quarter, up 22.9 percent year on year and accounting for 31.5 percent of its total imports and exports during the period.

Since the third quarter of last year, China’s foreign trade has witnessed positive year-on-year growth for three consecutive quarters, and this trend is expected to continue for some time to come, GAC spokesperson Li Kuiwen told a news conference.

But he cautioned that foreign trade still faces instability and uncertainty as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage worldwide and the international economic landscape remains grim and complicated.

He also said that overall trade growth in the second quarter could show the pace slowing due to a higher base comparison in the year-ago period when a jump in pent-up demand boosted the headline figures.

China’s Ministry of Commerce said earlier this month that the country will go all out to stabilize imports and exports. The MOC will improve the country’s trade policies and continue supporting enterprises by reducing their costs and improving efficiency.


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