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Wednesday, April 19, 2017 11:08:23 AM
Review of China’s Foreign Trade in the First Quarter of 2017

According to China Customs Statistics, in the first quarter of 2017, China’s foreign trade volume stood at RMB6.2 trillion, an increase of 21.8% year-on-year (similarly hereinafter). Exports increased by 14.8% to RMB3.33 trillion and imports grew by 31.1% to RMB2.87 trillion, hence the trade surplus shrank by 35.7% to RMB454.94billion.


1. The share of general foreign trade witnessed an increase. In the first quarter, the volume of general foreign trade rose by 23.2% to RMB3.49 trillion, taking up 56.2% of the total volume of foreign trade over the same period, 0.6 percentage points higher than the previous year, which reflected an improved structure of trade modes.


2. Imports from and exports to some countries along “the Belt and Road” have registered growth. In the first quarter, China’s imports from and exports to Russia, Pakistan, Poland, Kazakhstan and India increased by 37%18.7%19%69.3% and 27.7% respectively. Over the same period, China’s imports from and exports to the EU rose by 16.9% while imports and exports to the US and ASEAN increased by 21.3% and 25% respectively, together accounting for 41.4% of China’s total import and export value.


3. The proportion of imports and exports by private enterprises has increased. In the first quarter, the imports and exports of private enterprises grew by 22.5 percent to RMB2.28 trillion, accounting for 36.8 percent of the total national figure, 0.2 percentage points higher than the same period last year. Exports by private enterprises increased by 17% to RMB1.49 trillion, accounting for 44.9 percent, the largest share, of the total export value. Imports by private enterprises grew by 34.7 percent to RMB788.4 billion.


4. Electro-mechanical products and traditional labor-intensive products remained the major export goods. In the first quarter, exports of electro-mechanical products increased by 15.1 percent to RMB1.93 trillion, taking up 58.1% of the total export value over the same period. Exports of mobile phones and automatic data processing devices rose by 21.1%, and 12.5%, respectively. Over the same period, exports of traditional labor-intensive products increased by 10.5% to RMB654.7 billion, accounting for 19.7% of the total export value.


5. Import major bulk commodities such as iron ore and crude oil witnessed growth in both volume and price. In the first quarter, the import of iron ore, crude oil, bean, natural gas hit 271 million tons, 105 million tons, 19.52 million tons and 15.03 million tons, which increased by 12.2 percent, 15 percent, 20 percent and 4.3 percent respectively. The import of copper was 1.15 million tons, down by 19.9 percent while the import of refined oil stood at 7.68 million tons, declining by 0.6 percent. Over the same period, the import prices witnessed an overall increase of 13.5 percent, where the average import prices of iron ore, crude oil, refined oil, copper and bean increased by 80.5 percent, 64.7 percent, 47 percent, 31.3 percent and 20.6 percent respectively.


6. China’s Export Leading Index kept flat in March. China’s Export Leading Index was 40.2 in March, putting an end to a four-consecutive-month rise and maintaining flat with the previous month. Data from an online survey showed that in the same month, China’s Export Managers’ Index was 43.8, up by 2.2 points while the New Export Order Index, Manager Confidence Index and Enterprises’ Comprehensive Cost Index grew by 2.2 points, 3 points and 0.4 points to 46.4, 50.9 and 22 respectively.


Overall, China’s import and export remained sound and steady and witnessed positive changes since the second half of last year, which, however, can not represent the whole picture of this year. On the one hand, there are many complicated, unstable and uncertain factors affecting the foreign trade environment, and on the other hand, there are still positive conditions so that the economic prospects remained good . Faced with this complex international environment, China Customs will implement the policies and measures mapped out by the Central Conference on Economy Work and the annual Government Report, adhere to the general work guideline of making progress while maintaining stability, focus on the establishment of a new open economic system, make solid progress in implementing the policies and measures for the steady foreign trade growth so that the foreign trade will enjoy a steady recovery.


The English version is only for reference. In the event of any discrepancy between the Chinese and English versions, the Chinese version shall prevail.

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