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China's Foreign Trade Remains Stable and "Spring Concentrated" (Hot Spotlight)

China's Foreign Trade Remains Stable and "Spring Concentrated" (Hot Spotlight)

    On April 12th, two foreign merchants purchased daily-use ceramic products from Fujian Dehua Sunlight Ceramics Co., Ltd.

  There are more than 2,600 ceramics enterprises in Dehua County, Quanzhou City, Fujian Province. In 2016, the ceramics production value was 19.95 billion yuan, of which 13.764 billion yuan was in export ceramics. The products were sold to 190 countries and regions such as Thailand and France.

  Xinhua News Agency reporter Lin Shanchuan

  On April 13, the State Council Information Office held a conference on the import and export of the first quarter of 2017. Huang Songping, spokesperson of the General Administration of Customs, introduced the relevant situation and answered questions on hot issues. According to customs statistics, in the first quarter of 2017, the total value of imports and exports of goods traded in China was 6.2 trillion yuan, an increase of 21.8% over the same period of 2016. Among them, exports were 3.33 trillion yuan, an increase of 14.8%; imports were 2.87 trillion yuan, an increase of 31.1%. Experts pointed out that China’s foreign trade has stabilized for three consecutive quarters, reflecting the further increase in the positive factors of China’s economic fundamentals. It is foreseeable that China will also strive to consolidate this momentum in the future and pursue a more balanced trade structure.

  Three favorable support to warm up

  According to the latest data released by the General Administration of Customs, the import and export highlights in the first quarter were quite large, and there was a clear trend toward stabilization.

  In the first quarter of this year, China’s imports and exports to countries along the “Belt and Road” of Russia, Pakistan, Poland, Kazakhstan, and India increased by 37%, 18.7%, 19%, 69.3%, and 27.7%, respectively. During the same period, China’s imports and exports to the EU increased by 16.9%, imports and exports to the United States increased by 21.3%, and imports and exports to ASEAN increased by 25%. At the same time, the proportion of imports and exports of general trade, import and export of private enterprises increased, and the trade structure was optimized. The export manager index and new export orders index continued to rise, and foreign trade confidence continued to increase.

  As for the reasons for the recovery of foreign trade in the first quarter, Huang Songping believes that there are three main advantages to support: First, the current global economy shows signs of continued improvement, and international market demand has improved, which is conducive to export growth. Second, due to the continuous deepening of supply-side structural reforms and other factors, the domestic economy has continued to improve steadily this year, which in turn has driven China's imports to continue to increase. Third, the rebound in commodity prices in the international market after the low prices in the first quarter of last year contributed to a significant increase in the value of imports. After domestic production was transmitted to the export sector, it also boosted export prices. In addition, the lower base figure in the same period last year was also an important reason for the higher growth rate of imports and exports in the first quarter of this year.

  Bai Ming, deputy director of the Institute of International Markets of the Ministry of Commerce, believes that the expansion of the Free Trade Zone, the Trade Facilitation Agreement, and the Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macao Dawan Districts are becoming new momentum for foreign trade growth.

  Sustained recovery still needs to work

  Then, whether the resumption of foreign trade can be sustained? Huang Songping said that the situation of foreign trade in the first quarter could not represent the trend of the whole year, and there are many factors to be considered when the foreign trade can continue to recover.

  Xu Hongcai, deputy chief economist of the China International Economic Exchange Center, pointed out in an interview with this reporter that despite the fact that the import and export warming trend in the first quarter is very gratifying, it should not ignore the hidden worries.

  “On the one hand, investment has played an important role in stimulating China’s economic growth and import demand this year. On the other hand, the recent rebound in foreign trade is also closely related to factors such as the bottoming out of commodity prices in the past and the downward movement of the renminbi against the US dollar. In general, under the current background of the reversal of the rise of global trade protectionism, we cannot afford to ignore the future foreign trade situation, Xu Hongcai said.

  Experts generally believe that at present, China's economy is progressing steadily and stably, and the trend toward realism is clear. Supply-side structural reforms continue to deepen, and favorable conditions for promoting foreign trade development are still numerous. Therefore, as long as we do enough homework, we hope to achieve further recovery of foreign trade. "The fundamentals of China's foreign trade development have not changed. Without major risks, through continuous efforts, China's foreign trade import and export is expected to continue its good momentum this year." Huang Songping predicted.

  Trade is expected to be more balanced

  It is worth noting that although China's trade surplus with the United States remained large in the first quarter of this year, the momentum for Sino-U.S. trade moving closer to a more balanced direction is also growing. According to the latest data, the total value of Sino-U.S. trade reached 870.58 billion yuan in the first quarter, an increase of 21.3% year-on-year. Among them, China's exports to the United States were 606.35 billion yuan, an increase of 16.8%; imports from the United States were 264.23 billion yuan, an increase of 33.1%; trade surpluses with the United States were 342.12 billion yuan, an increase of 6.7%, and the growth rate was clearly lower than the growth rate of total value of trade.

  In response, Huang Songping said at the press conference that the trade surplus between China and the United States is only nominal, and in fact, a considerable part of it is the outward transfer of industries from other countries, which is then undertaken by China. At present, China is at the low end of the global industrial chain, and its processing and manufacturing profits are not high. However, the import and export goods of the processing trade are all value statistics. Therefore, China’s actual profit has not been counted as large as the surplus shows, and it needs an objective and rational view.

  Xu Hongcai said, “At present, China and the United States have already established a 100-day trade dialogue to promote more balanced trade. For China, we should focus on supply-side structural reforms to strengthen industrial restructuring and transform foreign trade development methods. To reduce the supply of foreign trade products with low added value, and thus cultivate new competitive advantages in foreign trade; for the United States, it should also effectively relax its restrictions on the export of high-tech products to China, and at the same time create a better environment for Chinese companies to invest in the United States."