China’s foreign trade of goods went down 3.2 percent year on year in the first half of this year to 14.24 trillion yuan (about $2 trillion), narrowing by 1.7 percentage points compared with the decrease for the first five months.
During the period, the country’s exports dropped 3 percent to 7.71 trillion yuan and imports fell 3.3 percent to 6.53 trillion yuan, according to the General Administration of Customs (GAC).
The country registered better-than-expected foreign trade performance in the first half of the year, said Li Kuiwen, GAC spokesperson and director of the Department of Statistics and Analysis of the administration.
It is necessary to go all out to coordinate epidemic prevention and control at ports and promote stable growth of foreign trade, further optimize the business environment at ports, help enterprises explore international markets, strive to stabilize the fundamentals of foreign trade, and facilitate more stable and high-quality imports and exports, Li remarked.
Though total imports and exports inched down by 3.2 percent in the first six months, the drop has narrowed by 3.3 percentage points from the first quarter. Meanwhile, China recorded positive growth in both imports and exports for the first time of the year in June.
Foreign trade was overall brought back to a stable level. In the second quarter, foreign trade reached 7.67 trillion yuan, a year-on-year decline narrowed to 0.2 percent and an increase of 16.7 percent from the first quarter.
Exports witnessed a year-on-year growth of 4.5 percent and a quarter-on-quarter growth of 31.3 percent while imports declined 5.7 percent year on year and rose 1.6 percent compared with the first quarter.
The country saw its foreign trade rise 5.1 percent year on year in June, with exports and imports up 4.3 percent and 6.2 percent respectively.
While exports have increased for three consecutive months since April, imports recorded positive growth for the first time in June, after double-digit decrease in April and May.
Since the beginning of this year, a series of policies and measures have taken effect, such as improving export tax rebate policies, increasing foreign trade credit input, enhancing export credit insurance support, establishing more cross-border e-commerce comprehensive pilot zones, and supporting domestic sales of commodities originally produced for exports, which has helped foreign trade companies overcome difficulties and maintain market shares and orders, and effectively promoted exports, according to Li.
Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, exports of medical supplies grew rapidly, with sales of textile products (including face masks), pharmaceutical products and medical equipment expanding by 32.4 percent, 23.6 percent and 46.4 percent, respectively.
Driven by the stay-at-home economy which emerged during the outbreak, the exports of laptops and mobile phones went up by 9.1 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.
China has speeded up the cultivation of new drivers of foreign trade. Li said imports and exports of private businesses, the largest business entity in foreign trade, have continued their strong growth against headwinds and played a major role in stabilizing the overall foreign trade.
The foreign trade volume of private enterprises rose 4.9 percent to 6.42 trillion yuan in H1, accounting for 45.1 percent of the total, and 3.5 percentage points higher than the same period last year.
Exports of private enterprises stood at 4.14 trillion yuan, an increase of 3.2 percent, accounting for 53.7 percent of China’s total export value. Imports increased 8.1 percent to 2.28 trillion yuan, accounting for 34.9 percent of the country’s total import volume.
The fact that the market share of private enterprises in foreign trade has significantly increased demonstrates their strong competitiveness and vitality under the complex external situation, said Zhang Yansheng, chief researcher of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.
As a new form of trade, cross-border e-commerce, which boasts advantages like online transactions, contactless delivery, short transaction chains, has played an active role in cushioning the effects of the epidemic on foreign trade companies.
Data from the GAC suggested that imports and exports under the customs’ cross-border e-commerce supervision platforms increased by 26.2 percent in the first half of 2020.
Exports increased by 28.7 percent, imports by 24.4 percent and market procurement trade exports by 33.4 percent.
In the first six months, China has continuously optimized its international layout for foreign trade, and emerging markets are taking an increasingly larger part in China’s foreign trade.
During the January-June period, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) became China’s largest trading partner with trade up 5.6 percent year-on-year to 2.09 trillion yuan, accounting for 14.7 percent of China’s total foreign trade.
Exports to the ASEAN rose 3.4 percent to 1.15 trillion yuan and imports totaled 938.57 billion yuan, an increase of 8.5 percent.
China’s trade volume with countries along the Belt and Road saw a slight decline of 0.9 percent year-on-year to 4.2 trillion yuan during the period, 2.3 percentage points lower than the country’s overall decrease in foreign trade.
It accounted for 29.5 percent of China’s total foreign trade in the first six months, up 0.7 percentage points from a year ago.
As the epidemic spreads around the world, the global economy has encountered the worst recession since the World War II.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted a 4.9 percent decline in the global economy for 2020 and the World Bank forecasted that the global economy will shrink 5.2 percent this year.
Foreign trade enterprises have shown strong vitality in stabilizing orders and market shares, said Liang Ming, research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation with the Ministry of Commerce, adding that China still has its advantages in industrial chain and supply chain, which makes it highly competitive in the world.
China’s foreign trade has entered high-quality development from rapid growth in the past 40 years, Zhang pointed out, adding that the foreign trade is expected to remain sound in the second half of 2020 as the country balances short-term stability, medium-term structural adjustment and long-term growth model transformation.