In the initial seven months of 2023, China’s foreign trade exhibited robust growth, demonstrating resilience in the face of a sluggish global demand environment. The country’s trade activities showcased a diversified market reach and an improved trade structure, offering a promising outlook amidst challenging external conditions.
According to official data released on Tuesday, China’s combined imports and exports witnessed a slight expansion of 0.4 percent year on year, reaching a total value of 23.55 trillion yuan (equivalent to approximately 3.29 trillion U.S. dollars) for the first seven months of the year. The General Administration of Customs (GAC) reported that while exports experienced a moderate growth of 1.5 percent compared to the previous year, imports registered a modest decline of 1.1 percent during the same period.
In the month of July alone, China’s foreign trade saw a decline of 8.3 percent year on year, amounting to 3.46 trillion yuan. Within this timeframe, exports decreased by 9.2 percent, and imports saw a decline of 6.9 percent, as outlined in the data.
GAC spokesperson Lyu Daliang noted that China’s monthly trade figures had consistently exceeded 3.4 trillion yuan since the second quarter, reflecting a stable trend. Lyu commented, “China’s foreign trade has demonstrated steady performance and remained in line with expectations.” He emphasized that the underlying factors supporting long-term growth remain unchanged.
Throughout the January-July period, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) maintained its position as China’s largest trade partner, with trade between the two rising by 2.8 percent year on year. While China observed a marginal decline of 0.1 percent in trade with the European Union, and more significant drops of 9.6 percent and 5.8 percent in trade with the United States and Japan, respectively, the nation experienced growth in trade with alternative markets.
China’s trade with five Central Asian nations achieved remarkable expansion, soaring by 35 percent year on year. Additionally, trade with Latin American and African countries surged by 5.5 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively.
The trade volume between China and countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative amounted to 8.06 trillion yuan during this period, representing a substantial increase of 7.4 percent year on year. This volume accounted for 34.2 percent of China’s overall trade.
Yang Changyong, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Macroeconomic Research, stressed the need for Chinese enterprises to seize opportunities within Belt and Road markets. Yang emphasized the importance of developing high-quality products and elevating the reputation of Chinese brands.
Mechanical and electrical products emerged as a highlight in China’s trade portfolio for the initial seven months of the year. Exports in this category reached 7.83 trillion yuan, marking a notable 4.4 percent year-on-year growth and constituting 58.1 percent of the total exports. Particularly impressive was the export growth of automobiles, which expanded by 118.5 percent compared to the previous year. Cui Dongshu, Secretary General of the China Passenger Car Association, pointed out the potential for China to become a significant exporter of new energy vehicles, given the rising demand in the European market.
As the second half of the year unfolds, Li Xingqian, an official from the Ministry of Commerce, acknowledged the challenging global demand environment. He highlighted the prevailing issues of reduced production, consumption, and investment, compounded by the “decoupling” or “de-risking” measures taken by certain nations to disrupt normal trade flows. To address these challenges, Li outlined China’s commitment to support its enterprises in securing orders and expanding market access. This includes initiatives such as hosting trade exhibitions, increasing international flight connectivity, and streamlining visa procedures for foreign business professionals.