China’s foreign trade up 3.4pc in 2019

BEIJING (XINHUA) – China’s foreign trade rose 3.4 per cent in 2019 to CNY31.54 trillion (about USD4.6 trillion), customs data showed yesterday.

Exports grew five per cent year on year to CNY17.23 trillion last year while imports climbed 1.6 per cent to CNY14.31 trillion, resulting in a trade surplus of CNY2.92 trillion, which expanded by 25.4 per cent, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) said.

“Based on our initial analyses, China is expected to remain the largest trading country in 2019,” said Deputy Head of the GAC Zou Zhiwu.

Zou said China’s foreign trade throughout last year scored steady growth and better quality despite mounting domestic and external challenges.

In December alone, the country’s foreign trade jumped 12.7 per cent from the same period of 2018 to a monthly record of CNY3.01 trillion, with exports up nine per cent and imports up 17.7 per cent to new monthly highs.

The December uptick can be attributed to factors including rising demand for imports from recovering manufacturing activities, rising prices of major commodities worldwide and growing confidence buoyed by the progress relating to trade consultations between China and the United States (US), said Huang Guohua, an official with the GAC.

Reviewing China’s foreign trade in 2019, Zou emphasised a few notable changes.

Private enterprises overtook foreign-funded enterprises as the biggest contributor to China’s foreign trade for the first time, posting a record high trade volume of CNY13.48 trillion.

The country’s trade mix continued to improve in 2019, with general trade taking up a larger share. General trade, growing 5.6 per cent year on year, accounted for 59 per cent of the total trade, 1.2 percentage points higher over one year ago.

Electrical products, electronics and machinery accounted for 58.4 per cent of the country’s exports in 2019 with CNY10.06 trillion in trade volume, up 4.4 per cent year-on-year.

Yesterday’s data also showed that China’s meat imports posted the fastest growth in comparison with other major staple commodities including iron ore, soybeans, crude oil and natural gas in 2019.

The container port in Qingdao in eastern China’s Shandong province. PHOTO: AP