China’s foreign trade in H1 hits record high

Trucks are being loaded at Yantai port, east China's Shandong province, July 13, 2021. (Photo by Tangke/People's Daily Online)

China’s total foreign trade in goods in the first half of the year grew 27.1 percent from a year ago to 18.07 trillion yuan (about $2.79 trillion), data from the General Administration of Customs (GAC) showed. Exports increased 28.1 percent to 9.85 trillion yuan, and imports expanded by 25.9 percent to 8.22 trillion yuan.

The country’s total foreign trade, exports and imports in the first six months this year were up 22.9 percent, 23.8 percent and 21.7 percent, respectively, compared with those in the same period two years ago, before the outburst of COVID-19.

China’s foreign trade stood at 3.29 trillion yuan last month, up 22 percent from a year ago, which marked positive growth for 13 months in a row.

China’s foreign trade in the first half of the year posted the best performance in history, which has laid a solid foundation for the whole-year growth of the country’s foreign trade, said GAC spokesperson Li Kuiwen at a press conference on July 13. China’s economy showed a steady recovery with solid and sound growth in the first half, and market players demonstrated stronger vitality, which offered strong support for the continuous and stable growth of foreign trade, Li, who’s also the director of the GAC’s statistics and analysis department, added. In particular, the continuous release of policy dividends to stabilize foreign trade, and the leading role played by high-level opening platforms have further outlined the advantages of new businesses and models of foreign trade.

According to GAC statistics, the total trade value of China’s cross-border e-commerce sector reached 886.7 billion yuan in the first six months, up 28. 6 year on year. Exports of the sector surged 44.1 percent to 603.6 billion yuan, and imports stood at 283.1 billion yuan, an uptick of 4.6 percent. Besides, exports through mart procurement trade grew 49.1 percent.

The continuous global economic recovery and increasing external demand entailed rising global trade and China’s exports. In the past months, multiple international organizations have lifted their expectation for global growth in 2021. For instance, the International Monetary Fund in April lifted the Global Growth Forecast for 2021 to 6 percent, and the World Bank also increased its global economic growth forecast to 5.6% for this year the last month.

In the first six months, China’s exports to the US, the EU, and ASEAN countries grew 31.7 percent, 25.5 percent, and 27.8 percent, respectively. The country also exported 47 percent and 27.7 percent more of goods to Latin America and Africa during the same period.

Since the proposal of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China has witnessed increasingly closer trade ties with BRI countries. Especially after the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, China and relevant countries offered mutual support to tide over difficulties and constantly deepened Belt and Road cooperation, achieving remarkable progress.

China’s total trade value with BRI countries grew 27.5 percent in the first half to 5.35 trillion yuan, 0.4 percentage point higher than the growth of the country’s total trade in the same period, and accounting for 29.6 percent of its total imports and exports. Exports to these countries increased 29.1 percent to 3.03 trillion yuan, and imports increased 25.6 percent to 2.32 trillion yuan.

China-Europe freight service contributed a major part to stabilizing the trade with countries along the rail tracks. According to China Railway, China Europe freight trains made 7,377 trips in the first six months this year, shipping 707,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units), up 43 percent and 52 percent, respectively. Ninety-eight percent of the containers shipped were loaded with goods. The GAC said 209.78 billion yuan of China’s foreign trade with BRI countries were realized through rail services, up 43.1 percent.

Upholding the vision of building a global community of health for all, China has actively joined the WHO’s COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, or COVAX project and supported all countries to fight the pandemic. Li said the GAC has issued a series of measures this year to ensure smooth and quick customs clearance of COVID-19 vaccines. According to statistics, China has exported over 500 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines and concentrates to 112 countries and regions. The vaccines and concentrates China has offered equal to 1/6 of the world’s total production, which marks an important contribution of the country to global anti-pandemic cooperation and economic recovery.

As COVID-19 is still spreading in many parts of the world, Li warned that China’s foreign trade faces uncertainties in a complex global epidemic environment. Meanwhile, the foreign trade growth might slow in the second half due to a high base last year. However, it is still possible that the country’s foreign trade maintains rapid growth for the year.