Tuesday, January 18, 2022

China recorded record trade surpluses in December 2021 and strong exports in 2021

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BEIJING () – China recorded record trade surpluses in December and 2021 as exports exceeded expectations during the global pandemic, but some analysts pointed to a slowdown in international shipments in the coming months.

FILE PHOTO: Containers at Yangshan Deepwater Port in Shanghai, October 19, 2020. / Aly Song

According to the Bureau of Statistics, the trade surplus in 2021 was $ 676.43 billion, the highest level since its inception in 1950, and exceeded $ 523.99 billion in 2020.

According to customs data on Friday, China recorded a record trade surplus for December as exports remained stable, while import growth slowed sharply.

In December, the trade surplus rose to $ 94.46 billion, the highest level since the record began in August 1994. That rose sharply from a $ 71.72 billion surplus in November and is higher than the $ 74.50 billion surplus forecast, according to the survey.

China’s major trade balance with the United States, a major source of confrontation between the world’s two largest economies, totaled $ 39.23 billion in December, up from $ 36.95 billion last month but below $ 42 billion in September.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday that it hoped the United States would create the conditions for expanding trade cooperation after China’s purchases of U.S. goods over the past two years fell far short of the goals set out in the Trump-era trade deal.

China’s exports exceeded expectations for the bulk of 2021, but shipments slowed due to rising demand for goods abroad and high costs for exporters. It was unknown how the Omicron coronavirus variant would affect this trend.

Exports grew 20.9% year-on-year last month and 20% growth was higher than expected, but fell below 22% growth in November.

Trading data supported the yuan somewhat, indicating the largest weekly earnings in two months.

“Exports remained strong last month, but may soften in the coming months as disruptions at ports intensify,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, a senior Chinese economist at Capital Economics.

The Chinese Health Ministry reported a total of 143 locally approved COVID-19 cases in China on Friday, including the northern port city of Tianjin on Jan. 13.

But Zhang Zhivei, chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management, said exports may already be benefiting from Omicron’s disruption of other countries ’supply chains.

“We expect China’s exports to be stable in the first quarter as stable global demand and pandemics intensify in many developing countries. At present, strong exports may be the only factor that will help the Chinese economy, ”Zhang said.

IMPORT GROWTH

The world’s second-largest economy has experienced an impressive recovery from the pandemic, helping to stimulate export growth as several other sectors have been slowing, but there are signs that the pace is slowing.

Property declines and tight COVID-19 restrictions could hurt the 2022 forecast, with some analysts pointing to a slowdown in import growth as evidence that this is already happening.

According to customs data, imports grew by 19.5% in December compared to the same period last year, with a forecast of 26.3% growth and a sharp decline in November, up 31.7%. lost.

“Imports have fallen sharply, which is in line with the continuation of domestic weakness, especially in the property sector,” Evans-Pritchard said.

Customs data showed that iron ore imports, a key component of China’s steel production, declined a month ago due to steel production restrictions and a slowdown in property construction.

Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics, said in a statement: “We expect import growth to slow in the first half of this year as China’s domestic demand continues to decline due to slowing property and weak consumption.”

China’s economic growth rate is expected to slow to 5.2% in 2022, before stabilizing in 2023, when the survey showed that the central bank continues to ease policies to prevent a sharp decline.

China released its fourth-quarter gross domestic product data on Monday.

Total exports grew by 29.9 percent in 2021, up from 3.6 percent in 2020. During the year, imports rose 30.1 percent after falling 1.1 percent in 2020.

Interviews by Shen Yan, Albi Zhang and Gabriel Crossley; Edited by Ana Nicolas da Costa

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