Private firms lead China's imports, exports for first time

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Private firms overtook foreign-funded enterprises as the biggest contributor of China's foreign trade for the first time in 2019, customs data showed Tuesday.

The aggregate imports and exports generated by China's private firms went up 11.4 percent year on year to 13.48 trillion yuan (about 1.95 trillion U.S. dollars).

The number accounted for 42.7 percent of the country's total, up 3.1 percentage points from 2018, according to the General Administration of Customs (GAC).

In breakdown, private firms' exports rose by 13 percent to 8.9 trillion yuan, taking up 51.6 percent of China's total exports in 2019, while their imports expanded by 8.4 percent to 4.58 trillion yuan, making up 32 percent of the country's total imports.

Foreign-invested companies took up 39.9 percent of China's foreign trade, with the trade volume falling 3.2 percent to 12.57 trillion yuan.

Compared to the previous year, more private firms engaged in foreign trade in 2019, Zou Zhiwu, vice minister of the GAC, said at a press conference.

The number of private enterprises with foreign trade transactions reached 406,000 in 2019, up 8.7 percent from one year earlier, he said.

Thanks to the Belt and Road Initiative and their comparative advantages in costs, private companies in the central and western regions of China outperformed their peers on the east coast, Zou noted.

The foreign trade generated by private firms in central and western areas surged 28.3 percent and 22.4 percent, respectively, 19.5 percentage points and 13.6 percentage points higher than that of the eastern region.

Private firms also showed a growing ability to tap emerging markets, Zou said. For instance, private firms' exports to ASEAN countries, Latin America and Africa rose 25.6 percent, 11.4 percent and 15.6 percent, respectively, outpacing the national average growth in these markets. 

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