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China’s foreign trade report card for 2018

2019-02-19

The “report card” of China’s foreign trade in 2018 was released on January 14. The total value of China’s imports and exports reached 4.62 trillion us dollars, exceeding 30.5 trillion yuan in terms of RMB, hitting a new record high.

Exports reached $2.48 trillion, up 9.9%, the highest growth rate since 2011. Imports topped us $2.14 trillion, up 15.8 percent and topping us $2 trillion for the first time. The trade surplus narrowed 16.2 percent to $351.76 billion, the lowest since 2013.

By country/region:

In terms of china-us trade, China exported us $478.4 billion to the us in 2018, up 11.3 percent year-on-year.

In terms of china-eu trade, in terms of RMB, China’s exports to the eu in 2018 increased by 7% year-on-year and imports by 9.2%. The eu will remain China’s largest trading partner.

In terms of sino-russian trade, China’s import and export to Russia reached 707.55 billion yuan in 2018, up by 24% year-on-year, accounting for 2.3% of China’s total import and export value in the same period. Exports to Russia totaled 316.65 billion yuan, up 9.1 percent, while imports from Russia totaled 390.9 billion yuan, up 39.4 percent. In us dollar terms, the bilateral trade volume between China and Russia will reach us $107.06 billion in 2018, exceeding us $100 billion for the first time, a record high, with a growth rate of 27.1%, ranking first among China’s top 10 trading partners. The main import and export commodities, mainly mechanical and electrical products to Russia, from Russia mainly concentrated in crude oil, coal, sawn timber and other energy and resource products. The customs said that this year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Russia, and it is expected to see new development of china-russia economic and trade relations this year.

In terms of china-dprk trade, China’s imports from north Korea in 2018 fell by 88% year-on-year and exports by 33.3% in yuan terms. Li kuiwen, a spokesman for the general administration of customs and director of the department of statistics and analysis, said China strictly abides by u.n. sanctions against north Korea.

In terms of data for the fourth quarter of 2018, China’s foreign trade and import and export grew by 8.8% year-on-year, which is down from the year-on-year growth rate in the third quarter. In the first four quarters of 2018, China’s imports and exports were 6.76 trillion yuan, 7.36 trillion yuan, 8.18 trillion yuan and 8.21 trillion yuan, respectively.

Why the growth of foreign trade import and export slowed down in the fourth quarter?

Spokesman of news of the general administration of customs, director-general of the department of statistics and analysis Li Kuiwen for “in the fourth quarter of China’s foreign trade import and export growth slowed” responded that the situation of import and export growth volatility are common, mainly with the domestic and international economic situation, the international commodity price level and the rhythm is related to many factors such as import and export foreign trade enterprises. If viewed from a longer cycle perspective, the degree of volatility will be somewhat reduced.

Li kuiwen said that the objective factor of last year’s base increase is also the most important reason for the fall in year-on-year growth in the fourth quarter. Compared with the third quarter and the fourth quarter of 2018, China’s foreign trade import and export base increased by 5% year-on-year. On a month-on-month basis, the fourth quarter was up 0.3 percent from the third quarter.

The biggest hidden danger for foreign trade development in 2019

In the view of the customs, the biggest worry for China’s foreign trade development in 2019 is still: the external environment is complex and severe, with many uncertain and unstable factors, protectionism and unilateralism in some countries are on the rise, world economic growth may slow down, and transnational trade and investment may be dragged down. In addition to the base raising and other objective factors, foreign trade growth may slow down.

Support for measures to expand exports in 2019

China will introduce more measures to support expanded imports in 2019, the customs said.

Li kuiwen, spokesman of the general administration of customs, said the import and export data for 2018 have the following characteristics:

First, the annual value of imports and exports reached a new high. In 2005, the total value of China’s foreign trade exceeded 10 trillion yuan for the first time. In 2010, it exceeded 20 trillion yuan. In 2018, it hit a new high of more than 30 trillion yuan, 2.7 trillion yuan more than the all-time high in 2017.

Second, the import and export of general trade grew rapidly and their proportion increased. In 2018, China’s imports and exports of general trade totaled 17.64 trillion yuan, up 12.5 percent, accounting for 57.8 percent of China’s total imports and exports, 1.4 percentage points higher than in 2017. The structure of trade pattern has been improved.

Third, China’s imports and exports to its major trading partners increased in an all-round way, keeping up well with those of countries along the “One Belt And One Road” belt and road. In 2018, China’s imports and exports to the top three trading partners, the eu, the us and asean, grew by 7.9 percent, 5.7 percent and 11.2 percent respectively, accounting for 41.2 percent of China’s total imports and exports. In the same period, China’s imports and exports to countries along the “One Belt And One Road” line totaled 8.37 trillion yuan, up 13.3%, 3.6 percentage points higher than the overall national growth rate. China’s trade cooperation potential with countries along the “One Belt And One Road” line is continuously released, becoming a new driving force for the development of China’s foreign trade. Imports and exports to Russia, Saudi Arabia and Greece increased by 24%, 23.2% and 33% respectively.

Fourth, private enterprises import and export growth, the proportion of increase. In 2018, China’s private enterprises will import and export 12.1 trillion yuan, up 12.9 percent, accounting for 39.7 percent of the country’s total import and export value, up 1.1 percentage points from 2017. Exports totaled 7.87 trillion yuan, up 10.4 percent and accounting for 48 percent of the total value of exports. Imports totaled 4.23 trillion yuan, up 18.1 percent. In 2018, China’s private enterprises will contribute more than 50% to the growth of foreign trade import and export, becoming a highlight of China’s foreign trade development. In the same period, the import and export of foreign-invested enterprises reached 12.99 trillion yuan, up 4.3 percent or 42.6 percent. Imports and exports by state-owned enterprises totaled 5.3 trillion yuan, up 16.8 percent or 17.4 percent.

Fifth, the import and export growth in the central and western regions and northeast China was higher than the overall national growth rate, and regional development became more coordinated. In 2018, the growth rate of foreign trade in 12 western provinces and cities was 16.1%, exceeding the national growth rate by 6.4 percentage points. The growth rate of foreign trade in the six central provinces was 11.4%, 1.7 percentage points higher than the national growth rate. The growth rate of foreign trade in the three northeastern provinces was 14.8%, higher than the national growth rate of 5.1 percentage points. Foreign trade in the 10 provinces and municipalities in the east grew by 8.8 percent.

Sixth, the proportion of mechanical and electrical products export increased, export commodity structure continued to optimize. In 2018, China’s exports of mechanical and electrical products reached 9.65 trillion yuan, up 7.9 percent, accounting for 58.8 percent of the country’s total exports, up 0.4 percentage points from 2017. Exports of automobiles and mobile phones increased by 8.3 percent and 9.8 percent respectively. In the same period, exports of seven categories of labor-intensive products, including clothing and toys, totaled 3.12 trillion yuan, up 1.2 percent or 19 percent of the total value of exports.

Seven, crude oil, natural gas and copper and other commodity import prices rose, iron ore and soybean imports decreased. In 2018, China imported 462 million tons of crude oil, up 10.1 percent. Natural gas was 90.39 million tons, an increase of 31.9%. 33.48 million tons of refined oil, up 13 percent. Copper was 5.3 million tons, up 12.9 percent. In addition, iron ore imports were 1.064 billion tons, down 1 percent. Soybeans were 88.03 million tons, down 7.9 percent. Preliminary estimates show that China’s import prices rose by 6.1% in the whole year. Among them, crude oil rose by 30%, refined oil by 20%, natural gas by 22.9% and copper by 3.2%.


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