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China’s foreign trade rises despite sluggish global outlook

Updated: Aug 15,2019 04:47 PM    People's Daily/

China maintained a steady economic performance in July, with economic growth in a reasonable range, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Aug 14.

In July, both imports and exports were at its highest monthly level this year, with the growth rate of their total value rising 2.6 percent from June, the highest in three months.

China’s foreign trade growth is expected to embrace more quality and resilience, as the structure continues to optimize and momentum shift accelerates. At a recent meeting, the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee (CPC) stressed efforts to stabilize foreign trade to withstand economic and trade conflicts.

China's total import and export volume went up 5.7 percent year-on-year, reaching 2.74 trillion yuan in July. From January to July, imports and exports totaled 17.41 trillion yuan, up 4.2 percent.

World Economic Outlook by the International Monetary Foundation lowered its forecast for global trade growth from 3.7 percent in 2018 to 2.5 percent this year, the lowest in three years. Protectionism and unilateralism are rising in the sluggish global trade.

With this background, China has shown huge resilience through its steadily progressing foreign trade, said Zhang Jianping, an official from a research center under the Ministry of Commerce.

From January to July, exports amounted to 9.48 trillion yuan, gaining 6.7 percent. Exports in July reached 1.52 trillion yuan, the highest monthly volume this year. The growth rate was 10.3 percent, the highest in nearly four months.

NBS spokesperson Liu Aihua said the numbers indicated an overall controllable impact of the China-US trade tension, adding that measures to diversify trade and simplify trade process were coming into effect.

Imports in July edged up 0.4 percent to 1.21 trillion yuan, the highest in six months. From January to July, imports added up to 7.93 trillion yuan, a 1.3 percent growth.

In the two-month growth, import of high quality goods sustained a fast pace, said Zhang. He attributed this trend to the steady and well-performing Chinese economy, the upgrading domestic consumption and policy dividend.

Quality and efficiency were also factors in foreign trade.

In the first seven months of this year, China's trade facilitation with countries along the Belt and Road continues to improve. Import and export with those countries increased by 10.2 percent, contributing to 2.8 percent for overall foreign trade. Also, China’s trade with EU and ASEAN has gained 10.8 percent and 11.3 percent, respectively. In the first half of the year, China's imports and exports with its 25 free trade agreement partners increased by 3.8 percent.

Middle and western areas in China also participated in foreign trade. From January to July, exports in the areas increased 13.8 percent, 7.1 percentage points higher than the overall export growth rate and accounting for 17.5 percent to the country’s export.

In the first half of this year, 80 percent of private enterprises in China conducted import and export businesses, the total number of these enterprises climbing 8.5 percent to 336,000. From January to July, import and export by private enterprises gained 11.8 percent, 42 percent of the overall volume.

Product categories are gradually being upgraded to the high end. Exports of mechanical and electrical products grew by 6.1 percent, among which integrated circuit, metal-working machinery, excavator and other hi-tech products with high quality and value-added maintained fast growth. Imports of high-quality consumer goods also increased rapidly.

The State Council at a recent executive meeting decided to reduce import tariff levels, refine export tax rebate policies and accelerate the tax rebate process.

Efforts are urged to reinforce export credit insurance by expanding coverage and developing special insurance types to match enterprises’ demand. Also, conditions should be created to make RMB settlement easier.

Financial institutions are encouraged to provide more financing to support foreign trade of small and medium-sized enterprises.

Also, China will step up efforts in accelerating new industrial forms such as cross-border e-commerce. Import demo zones will also be developed.

Streamlining import and export documents, reducing customs clearance time and reducing port fees are also on the to-do list.

Zhang held the view that China has abundant policies in store to stabilize foreign trade, which will generate more impetus for enterprises. He added that enterprises should strive for better product quality and bigger markets to withstand external risks.

China bears a gigantic foreign trade volume with strong economic resilience and sufficient momentum, said Zhu Yong, deputy head of the Department of Foreign Trade at the Ministry of Commerce. She said China’s foreign trade will see more quality in its stable progress and listed the contributing factors: a complete domestic industrial chain, a large domestic market, diversified international markets, self-motivated enterprises and optimizing trade structure.