China’s trade figures pick up ending two-year decline
China’s trade surplus expanded to 27.8 trillion yuan (4.28 trillion US dollars) in 2017, gaining 14 percent in a year during which readings were driven up by a mild global economic recovery and commodity price hikes.
The world’s largest merchandise traders’ surplus with the US this year reached a historical high of 3.95 trillion yuan (275.8 billion US dollars) representing a 13 percent gain and topping the previous record of 260.8 billion US dollars in 2015.
Officials attributed the upturn to stronger international demand as the world’s economy appears to be on the path for a continued rebound, citing the optimistic findings of the World Bank’s most recent report. A surge in commodity prices have also augmented trade volumes, said a spokesperson from the General Administration on Customs during a briefing on Friday, adding that the fluctuation in prices were responsible for more than one third of the total increase.
More robust trade ties with major trade partners –Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the EU and the US were up more than 15 percent respectively, while the Belt and Road Initiative helped spur trade with nations such as Russia and Kazakhstan, which saw a 40 percent boost in trade activity with China.
Despite turning around a two-year fall, China acknowledges looming uncertainties in the near future, citing “complex, deep and structural issues” in the world, which may pose a threat to the path to global recovery and financial stability.
Meanwhile, rising competition from emerging nations leveraging low labor costs, as well as “rebalance and re-industrialization” policies of developed nations may result in many firms from higher-end manufacturing pivoting back home, may also squeeze China’s manufacturing edge and could narrow the current trade surplus.
Escalating trade protectionism is another factor that could hinder trade growth, said the spokesperson, as the number of trade investigations involving China and the size of their impact is currently at some of the highest levels in recent years.
(CGTN’s Cyrus Ip, Yan Yunli also contributed to the story.)