China's goods trade went up 3.9 percent year on year to 14.67 trillion yuan (about 2.13 trillion U.S. dollars) in the first half of this year, customs data showed on Friday.
Exports rose 6.1 percent year on year while imports grew 1.4 percent, according to the General Administration of Customs (GAC). That resulted in a trade surplus of over 1.2 trillion yuan, or just below 180 billion U.S. dollars, an increase of some 40 percent year on year.
Trade increases with major trading partners other than U.S.
China has signed a total of 17 free trade agreements with 25 trade partners, and in the first half of 2019, exports to these trade partners occupied nearly 40 percent of China's total exports.
China's half-year exports and imports with major trading partners witnessed a surge. Trade with the EU stood at 2.3 trillion yuan, an increase of 11.2 percent, and trade with ASEAN countries was up by 10.5 percent. However, trade with the U.S. went down by nine percent to 1.75 trillion yuan (255 billion U.S. dollars).
China's trade with countries along the Belt and Road Initiative reached 4.24 trillion yuan (620 billion U.S. dollars), an increase of 9.7 percent, accounting for 28.9 percent of the total trade.
Crude oil imports went up by 8.8 percent, and natural gas rose by 11.6 percent. But imports of soybeans dropped by 14.7 percent or 38 million tons.
Private sector gains ground
Private sector imports and exports expanded in volume and proportion. The 6.12 trillion yuan (890 billion U.S. dollars) contribution accounted for 41.7 percent of the total trade, while state-owned enterprises took up 17.5 percent of the total trade.
"Recently, we've implemented a series of measures to streamline administration, facilitate trade as well as cut taxes and fees substantially, especially since late last year. This has boosted the confidence of both enterprises and the market," Li Kuiwen, GAC spokesperson, said.
Effort to support cross-border trade
Li said that the GAC will take steps to further simplify customs clearance procedures (the number of regulatory documents for import and export inspections has been reduced from 86 to 46 this year), support cross-border e-commerce, share effective reform practices of free trade zones and promote diversification of export markets.
Li said that despite challenges arising from the complex global environment, China's foreign trade in the first half of the year made steady progress and the trade structure continues to be optimized. He added that the country is continuing to be more open to diverse global markets.
(CGTN's Wang Mengzhen, Liu Zihao, Ma Ke, Ma Yunpu also contributed to this story.)