While China’s customs data point to solid growth in imports and exports in the first five months of this year, a customs official predicted that the country’s economic development trend will remain stable and resilient in the long term.
China’s foreign trade grew 4.1 percent year-on-year to 12.1 trillion yuan ($1.76 trillion) in the first five months of 2019, data released by the General Administration of Customs showed on June 10.
The country’s exports jumped 6.1 percent year-on-year to 6.5 trillion yuan from January to May, while its imports amounted to 5.6 trillion yuan, growing 1.8 percent over the same period a year earlier.
Li Kuiwen, director-general of the Department of Statistics at the GAC, said: “The growth between January and May was propelled by government policies to stabilize the foreign investment environment and optimize the foreign trade structure.”
Foreign trade rose 2.9 percent to about 2.59 trillion yuan in May. Exports grew 7.7 percent, reaching 1.43 trillion yuan, while imports dropped 2.5 percent, GAC data showed.
Although external uncertainties and trade protectionism are rising, China’s policy measures have laid a solid foundation for the improvement of China’s foreign trade.
The escalation of Sino-US trade frictions has not only brought pressure to Chinese manufacturers, but also generated the impetus of transformation requiring them to expand their sales channels in more emerging markets, as well as those participating in the Belt and Road Initiative in order to remain competitive, he said.
The European Union continued to be China’s largest trading partner in the first five months of 2019, with bilateral trade volume up 11.7 percent year-on-year to 1.9 trillion yuan, followed by the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, up 9.4 percent to 1.63 trillion yuan, and the United States, down 9.6 percent to 1.42 trillion yuan.
Trade with economies related to the BRI totaled 3.49 trillion yuan, up 9 percent year-on-year, 4.9 percentage points higher than the overall rate, the GAC said, noting that the amount accounted for 28.8 percent of China’s total trade volume, up 1.3 percentage points from the same period last year.
The customs data show that China’s exports of mechanical and electrical products, as well as labor-intensive products such as textiles and furniture, maintained growth between January and May.
In addition, imports of crude oil and natural gas increased, while soybean and automobile imports declined during the five-month period.
After years of technology accumulation and industrial upgrading, China is now relying more on scientific breakthroughs and domestic demand rather than on a trade surplus to drive economic growth, said Li Xuesong, a researcher at the Institute of Industrial Economics, which is part of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.
China’s fast-developing services sector will continually support the job market and minimize the negative impact of US tariffs on China, he said.
As unilateralism and protectionism have seriously impacted the multilateral trading system, Vice-Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen urged G20 members to jointly create a good environment for international trade and investment, and make positive contributions to the development of an open world economy.
He made the remarks during the meeting of G20 Trade and Digital Economy Ministers held in Tsukuba in Japan at the weekend, the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on June 9.