The country's trade surplus last month continued its downward
trend, with efforts to curb exports paying off and imports rising,
authorities said on Friday.
Figures from customs authorities showed the trade surplus last
month was $19.49 billion, below December's $22.7 billion and the
record high of $27.1 billion set in October last year.
"For the first time since May, the trade surplus is under $20
billion," customs said on its website.
Exports rose 26.7 percent from a year earlier to $109.66
billion, while imports rose 27.6 percent to $90.17 billion, the
government agency said. Import growth outpaced exports for the
fourth month in a row.
Experts said the surplus dropped due to policies put in place
last year to curb exports. The authorities had introduced a raft of
policies since early last year, including VAT cuts, to discourage
exports of energy-intensive, polluting products.
"China's policies to encourage imports and cut the trade surplus
are also helping a lot," Zhang Xinfa, an economist with
Beijing-based China Galaxy Securities, said.
As a result of the tightening policy, the processing trade last
month was $81.85 billion, up 15.8 percent year on year. But the
growth rate slowed by 9.9 points compared with the same period last
The appreciation of the yuan also played a role in curbing
"Many exporters are facing difficulties due to rising costs and
the yuan's appreciation, and export momentum will ease in the
coming months," Li Yushi, a researcher on trade with the Ministry
of Commerce, said.
According to Li Peng, spokesman for Asia Footwear Association,
more than 1,000 shoe factories in Guangdong province closed down
The firms went bankrupt due to high costs driven by the removal
of an export tax refund, a stronger yuan, rising raw material
prices and labor costs, Li said.
The stronger yuan also makes imports cheaper, which is one
reason behind the strength seen in Friday's data, Zhang said.
The European Union remained as China's largest trade partner
last month, with bilateral trade of $34.28 billion, up 30.1 percent
year on year.
The EU was followed by the United States. Trade between China
and the US last month increased by 12.2 percent year on year to
$26.23 billion, despite looming recession in the US economy.
China's trade surplus last year stood at $262.2 billion, with
total trade volume hitting a new high of $2.17 trillion, up 23.5
percent from a year earlier.
(China Daily February 16, 2008)