China's foreign trade sustains growth despite weakening external demand
China's imports and exports maintained stable operation with diversified markets and a better structure in the first seven months of 2023, despite sluggish global demand.
China's total imports and exports expanded 0.4 percent year on year to 23.55 trillion yuan (US$3.29 trillion) in the first seven months of the year, official data showed Tuesday.
Exports grew 1.5 percent year on year while imports declined 1.1 percent from a year earlier, according to the General Administration of Customs (GAC).
In July alone, foreign trade dropped 8.3 percent year on year to 3.46 trillion yuan, with exports down 9.2 percent and imports down 6.9 percent, the data revealed.
"China's monthly trade data have been above 3.4 trillion yuan since the second quarter," said GAC spokesperson Lyu Daliang.
"Generally speaking, China's foreign trade maintained stable operation and was in line with expectation," said Lyu. "The fundamentals for long-term growth have not changed," Lyu added.
In the January-July period, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) remained China's largest trade partner. China's trade with ASEAN countries rose 2.8 percent year on year.
While China saw trade with the European Union, the United States and Japan fall 0.1 percent, 9.6 percent and 5.8 percent respectively, the country witnessed trade growth with other markets.
China's trade with five Central Asian countries recorded robust growth, soaring 35 percent year on year. Its trade with Latin America and Africa grew 5.5 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively.
During this period, China's trade with countries along the Belt and Road amounted to 8.06 trillion yuan, jumping 7.4 percent year on year. The trade value accounted for 34.2 percent of the country's total.
"Chinese companies should work to tap the potential of markets in countries along the Belt and Road, develop quality products and enhance the reputation of Chinese brands," said Yang Changyong, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Macroeconomic Research.
In the first seven months of this year, exports of mechanical and electrical products proved a bright spot. Exports of mechanical and electrical products amounted to 7.83 trillion yuan, rising 4.4 percent year and year and accounting for 58.1 percent of the country's total exports. Specifically, auto exports expanded 118.5 percent year on year.
"China boasts great potential in new energy vehicle exports, given rising demand in the European market," said Cui Dongshu, secretary general of the China Passenger Car Association.
Looking at the second half of the year, Li Xingqian, an official of the Ministry of Commerce, said the situation is extremely grim, citing weak global demand for production, consumption and investment, and "decoupling" or "de-risking" moves by some countries to hinder normal trade.
Li said China will take more steps to help companies secure orders and expand markets, including hosting trade expos, increasing the number of international flights and facilitating visas for foreign businesspeople.