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China's trade data grow strong as recovery continues

Updated: Jun 09,2021 02:58 PM    CGTN

Strong trade momentum in China shows the continuous recovery of the world's second-largest economy, focusing on export trends in the second half of this year, according to experts.

China's imports in dollar terms soared by more than half year-on-year in May and exports rose nearly 28 percent, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on June 7.

Zhu Haibin, chief China economist at JP Morgan, told CGTN the main factor behind China's strong trade momentum amid the global economic recovery is China is one of the few countries to have fully resumed production capacity under COVID-19.

Adjusting for base effects, the country's export growth slowed to 23.4 percent in May compared with the same period in 2019, while import growth quickened to 26.4 percent.

The 26.4 percent growth of imports in May, according to Lu Ting, Nomura's chief China economist, is mainly due to rising global commodity prices, strong yuan appreciation and restocking demand due to rising raw materials prices.

"The slightly slowing growth rate of exports during the same period is partly attributed to adjustment of the fall after the strong growth in April," Wang Tao, chief China economist at UBS Investment Bank, told CGTN.

He also highlighted that the year-on-year growth rate of steel exports rebounded to 64 percent from last year's low base, partly due to "the recent significant steel price premium overseas, which may further aggravate the tightness of domestic steel supply and demand, and push up domestic steel prices."

Meanwhile, the ASEAN bloc was China's biggest trade partner in the first five months, with trade up nearly 30 percent from a year ago and accounting for nearly 15 percent of the country's total foreign trade. That is benefiting from the shift of the global supply chain and closer regional integration in the Asian-Pacific area, Zhu analyzed.

Wang Dan, chief economist at Hang Seng Bank China, expected exports to stay strong for the rest of the year. "Due to the resurgence of COVID-19 in major exporters like India and Vietnam, the world's dependence on China's industrial power has once again increased."

Wang Tao forecasted a 16-percent year-on-year growth this year, stressing that "as the base effect fades, export growth in the second half of this year may slow to single digits (and may fall to around 0 percent by the end of the year)."

He added that if the yuan exchange rate appreciates further in the second half of this year, it may weaken China's export competitiveness. However, the possible sharp rebound of global demand and strength of China's supply chain should be able to partially offset the drag on exports caused by yuan appreciation.

In addition, China's trade surplus stood at $45.5 billion in May.

"While slowing export growth, worsening terms of trade and an expected rise in services imports will likely result in a lower current account surplus, which has been surging since mid-2020," Lu noted.

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