(Yicai Global) April 13 -- China reported a trade deficit for the first time in more than a year for the month of March amid more balanced imports and exports over the first quarter, the country’s customs authority said.
The country posted a trade deficit of USD4.98 billion, the first such instance since February last year, while recording an overall trade surplus of USD48.38 billion for the first quarter, down by 26.2 percent compared to last year, the General Administration of Customs announced today.
Bilateral trade between China and the US reached USD141.6 billion in the first three months, up by 13 percent, confirming the US as the country’s second largest trading partner. Chinese exports to the US grew 14.8 percent to USD99.9 billion, while imports rose 8.9 percent to USD41.7 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of USD58.3 billion, a 19.4 percent jump on the same period of the previous year.
China-US trade has underperformed in the first quarter relative to China’s overall foreign trade results, he added, and it still remains to be seen if the trade frictions will have further implications for the bilateral trade.
The total value of China’s imports and exports was USD1.04 trillion, up 16.3 percent over the same period of last year. Exports reached USD545.3 billion, an increase of 14.1 percent, while imports expanded 18.9 percent to at USD496.9 billion.
The world economy has continued to recover this year and China’s own economic situation has improved steadily, promoting rapid growth in foreign trade for the first quarter, said Huang Songping, spokesperson at the customs authority, adding that multiple uncertainties still remain in the international environment. Stable operations during the coming period will face challenges, he said.
Huang highlighted the divergence of fiscal and financial policies among major economies, geopolitical and technological changes, as well as financial market shocks as challenges to the recovery process of the world economy.
Increasing protectionism has also brought challenges to the growth of international trade, he said, while increasing competition in the global manufacturing industry has negatively affected the development of China’s foreign trade. The pace of development of low- and mid-end manufacturing industries among emerging economies has further accelerated, adding downward pressure on the competitive advantages associated with Chinese products, Huang added.
Exports from major Southeast Asian countries maintained a high growth rate in January over the same period of last year, World Trade Organization data shows. At the same time, some advanced economies have looked to enact policies to rebalance and reinvigorate industries. This trends also exacerbates global competition in manufacturing through the return to prominence of some mid-to-high-end manufacturing industries.
Overall, the pressures and challenges faced by the global economy and international trade in the second quarter will continue to increase, he said. However, as President Xi Jinping emphasized in the keynote speech at the 2018 annual meeting of the Boao Forum for Asia, economic globalization is an irreversible trend of the times. China will take a number of major initiatives in expanding its opening up, and China's foreign trade is expected to continue to grow.
Editor: William Clegg