By Du Haitao
China’s foreign trade in goods registered a total value of 28.33 trillion yuan ($4.4 trillion) during the first three quarters of 2021, up 22.7 percent year on year and a 23.4-percent increase compared with that during the same period of 2019, according to statistics from the General Administration of Customs of China (GAC).
The country’s goods exports and imports totaled 15.55 trillion yuan and 12.78 trillion yuan respectively in the first nine months of 2021, witnessing an increase of 24.5 percent and 22 percent respectively from the same period of 2019.
“China’s imports and exports grew at a reasonably fast pace during the first three quarters of 2021, showing strong resilience and steady improvement in quality,” said Li Kuiwen, GAC spokesperson and head of the Department of Statistics and Analysis of the GAC.
According to Li, The volume of China’s exports and imports grew with each quarter this year, with the figure hitting 8.51 trillion yuan, 9.59 trillion yuan, and 10.23 trillion yuan in the first, second, and third quarter respectively.
The country experienced relatively fast growth in major economic indicators, including the value-added of industrial companies with annual revenue of more than 20 million yuan, the total retail sales of consumer goods, and fixed-asset investment, during the first eight months of this year.
As the global economy and trade bounce back, China’s exports have benefited from the rising global market demand. The World Trade Organization (WTO) recently predicted that global merchandise trade volume would grow 10.8 percent in 2021.
From January to September, Chinese exports to the U.S., the European Union (EU), and Africa all expanded more than 20 percent, while the exports from China to Latin America increased by more than 40 percent.
These figures have proven that China’s policies on stabilizing foreign trade growth have continued to be beneficial. Since the beginning of this year, the country has introduced a series of policies and measures to maintain a steady foreign trade growth.
The country has bolstered enterprises’ confidence in the Chinese market by speeding up the development of new forms and models of foreign trade, further deepening reform to facilitate cross-border trade, optimizing business environment at ports, and advancing reform and innovation in trade and investment facilitation in free trade zones (FTZs).
China has contributed to the increase in global aggregate demand with a robust domestic market. During the first nine months of the year, China’s imports rose 22.6 percent year on year to hit a record high of 12.78 trillion yuan.
The total value of the country’s imported consumer goods increased by 14.7 percent to 1.29 trillion yuan during the period, accounting for 10.1 percent of the total value of the country’s imports.
The country imported 265.04 billion yuan worth of passenger vehicles during the first three quarters of this year, up 31.5 percent from a year earlier.
Quarterly growth in the country’s imports and exports has slowed, with the growth rate of foreign trade in September being 3.5 percentage points lower than that in August.
China’s economic fundamentals that will sustain long-term growth remain unchanged, according to Li, who believes that China can achieve relatively fast growth in its foreign trade this year despite the fact that it is still faced with many unstable and uncertain factors.
“Foreign trade companies have shown stronger vitality, and new progress has been made in the high-quality development of foreign trade,” Li said.
A total of 526,700 companies in China imported or exported goods during the first three quarters of this year, 34,000 more than that in the same period of 2020, according to Li, who disclosed that imports and exports by private enterprises rose 28.5 percent year on year to 13.65 trillion yuan, accounting for 48.2 percent of the country’s total value of foreign trade during the period.
China remained the world’s largest trading nation in goods in the first half of the year. The global market shares of China’s total foreign trade, exports as well as imports stood at 13.2 percent, 14.5 percent, and 12 percent during the first half of the year, up 0.8 percentage points, 0.9 percentage points, and 0.8 percentage points, from the same period last year.
Platforms of high-standard opening-up in China have played an increasingly important role in driving foreign trade.
In the first nine months of the year, the total imports and exports of comprehensive bonded areas across China grew by 26.3 percent to 4.08 trillion yuan, registering a growth rate 3.6 percentage points higher than the country’s overall foreign trade growth rate.
Meanwhile, FTZs across the country witnessed 4.67 trillion yuan worth of imports and exports, up 27.6 percent year on year, while the total amount of money spent on goods in south China’s Hainan province under the province’s off-shore duty-free policy surged 120.8 percent to 35.54 billion yuan.
China saw booming development in new business forms and models in the first three quarters of this year, with the imports and exports in cross-border e-commerce rising 20.1 percent and exports through market procurement trade, a trade facilitation scheme designed for small businesses, increasing by 37.7 percent year on year during the period.
The country’s exports have enjoyed sufficient driving forces of growth. During the first three quarters of the year, intermediate goods exports increased by 29.2 percent, contributing 13.2 percentage points to the growth of China’s exports and effectively underpinning the smooth functioning of global industrial and supply chains.
During the same period, China’s exports of mechanical and electrical products grew by 23 percent year on year, with the proportion of the category in the country’s total exports rising 0.1 percentage points from the same period of the previous year. The exports of some labor-intensive products have maintained relatively fast growth momentum.
According to Li, China’s trade with its major trading partners continued to grow in the first nine months of the year. The ASEAN remained its largest trading partner.
In the first three quarters of the year, China’s foreign trade with the ASEAN expanded 21.1 percent year on year to 4.08 trillion yuan; the country’s imports and exports with the EU, the U.S., Japan, and South Korea totaled 3.88 trillion yuan, 3.52 trillion yuan, 1.78 trillion yuan, and 1.7 trillion yuan respectively. The country’s trade with countries along the routes of the Belt and Road and countries participating in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) grew by 23.4 percent and 19.3 percent respectively.
China’s central and western regions have witnessed faster growth in foreign trade than the country’s overall foreign trade performance since the beginning of the year.
Imports and exports of these regions reached 4.95 trillion yuan during the first nine months of 2021, logging an increase of 27.2 percent, 4.5 percentage points higher than the country’s foreign trade growth rate during the period. Meanwhile, they accounted for 17.5 percent of the country’s total foreign trade volume during the period, up 0.6 percentage points from a year earlier.
Provinces in central China, including Henan and Hubei, saw an increase of over 30 percent in foreign trade during the first three quarters of the year.
China-Europe freight trains have effectively helped regions in central and western China explore markets along the routes of the Belt and Road.
Data released by the China State Railway Group Co., Ltd. indicate that during the first nine months of 2021, China-Europe freight trains made 11,300 trips and transported about 1.09 million twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) containers of goods, with the figures representing an increase of 29 percent and 37 percent respectively from the same period last year.
From January to September, foreign trade between central and western China and countries along the routes of the Belt and Road totaled 1.56 trillion yuan, accounting for 18.8 percent of the country’s total imports and exports with such countries during the period.
In the meantime, imports and exports between China’s central and western regions and countries along the routes of the Belt and Road transported via railways grew by 21.8 percent.