Date
30 May 2017
Shipping containers are seen in Rizhao, Shandong province. Exports are no longer as important for China as they used to be. Photo: Reuters
Shipping containers are seen in Rizhao, Shandong province. Exports are no longer as important for China as they used to be. Photo: Reuters

Chinese exports worst since 2009 but trade surplus expands

Chinese exports fell for the year, the worst performance since 2009, as weak demand continued to weigh on the world’s second largest economy.

However, the decline was less than expected in December thanks to a favorable comparison with year-earlier figures, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The improved monthly results don’t signal a major recovery this year despite a weaker yuan, economists said.

The General Administration of Customs, said exports fell 1.4 percent in December in dollar terms from a year earlier, after a drop of 6.8 percent in November.

This was a more modest decline than the 8 percent fall forecast by 15 economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal.

In yuan terms, exports rose last month while imports last month fell 7.6 percent from a year earlier compared with an 8.7 percent decline in November.

The country’s trade surplus widened to US$60.1 billion in December from US$54.1 billion in November.

Last year’s weak Chinese exports and even weaker imports led to a record US$594.5 billion annual trade surplus compared with US$382.5 billion in 2014, the agency said, as full-year exports fell 2.8 percent and imports fell 14.1 percent.

Despite the decline in exports last year, the Asian giant managed to increase its share of global trade.

“China’s declining exports in 2015 were mainly due to sluggish external demand on the back of slowing global economic recovery since the financial crisis,” customs spokesman Huang Songping said.

“But China’s export performance is better than other major economies in the world.”

Few economists see a huge export turnaround ahead, however, with exports no longer as important for China as they used to be.

December’s improved outbound data may reflect a one-time boost as companies rushed to meet year-end orders.

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RC/RA

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