China’s trade volume with BRI countries keeps growing in Q1

By Du Haitao, People’s Daily
China’s trade volume with Belt and Road countries maintained growth in the first quarter this year despite the country’s general shrinkage of imports and exports in the same period.
The country’s foreign trade with economies related to the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) rose 3.2 percent on a yearly basis to 2.07 trillion yuan ($294 billion). In particular, the trade growth with ASEAN and Russia stood at 6.1 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively.
China’s foreign trade volume totaled 6.57 trillion yuan in the first quarter, falling 6.4 percent from a year ago. Its exports dropped by 11.4 percent to 3.33 trillion yuan, and imports declined by 0.7 percent to 3.24 trillion yuan between January and March, resulting in a trade surplus of 98.33 billion yuan, down 80.6 percent year on year, according to statistics released by China’s General Administration of Customs (GAC).
The country’s imports and exports amounted to 2.45 trillion yuan last month, decreasing 0.8 percent year-on-year, 8.7 percentage points lower than that in the January-February period. To be specific, exports declined by 3.5 percent to 1.29 trillion yuan and imports rose by 2.4 percent to 1.16 trillion yuan.
China advanced both epidemic prevention and social and economic development in the first three months, further consolidated its preliminary achievements of epidemic control, continued measures to stabilize foreign trade and made great strides in the work resumption of foreign trade enterprises, said Li Kuiwen, Chinese customs spokesperson.
The country has the confidence to stabilize foreign trade and minimize the pandemic’s impacts on its imports and exports, Li said.
According to the briefing, China’s foreign trade recovered in March. As the policies on stabilizing foreign trade began to take effect, backlog orders were successively delivered.
China’s foreign trade is resilient and competitive, said Li, adding that Chinese enterprises also have strong capabilities of innovation and market expansion.
He noted that a series of measures to stabilize foreign trade have been introduced by local departments across the country to open international transportation channels and maintain stability of the supply and industrial chains.
Development quality of China’s foreign trade was improved against the global spread of the novel coronavirus disease and mounting downward pressure on trade.
In the first quarter, China’s general trade totaled 3.94 trillion yuan, accounting for 60 percent of its total trade volume, 0.4 percentages higher than that from a year ago. General trade has longer industrial chains and higher added value, and better indicates enterprises’ capability of independent development.
New business models developed rapidly. Cross-border e-ecommerce maintained its prosperous momentum in the first three months of this year. The trade volume achieved on GAC’s cross-border e-commerce management platform registered a growth of 34.7 percent.
It is noteworthy that ASEAN overtook the European Union as China’s largest trading partner in Q1. China’s total trade volume with ASEAN grew 6.1 percent year on year to over 991 billion yuan, accounting for 15.1 percent of the country’s total foreign trade.

Machineries handle cargos at a dock at Tongling Port, east China’s Anhui province, March 18, 2020. Photo by Guo Shining, People’s Daily Online

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