China’s foreign trade grows 28.2% in first five months

China’s foreign trade grew 28.2% year-on-year to 14.76 trillion yuan ($2.3 trillion) in the first five months in 2021, with the monthly trade volume posting growth momentum over the last year, customs data showed on Monday.

According to statistics from the General Administration of China (GAC), the country’s exports grew 30.1 percent year-on-year to 8.04 trillion yuan between January and May, while imports were up 25.9 percent to 6.72 trillion yuan over the same period. The trade surplus expanded 56.2 percent year-on-year to 1.32 trillion yuan.

In May alone, the country’s foreign trade volume grew 26.9 percent year-on-year to 3.14 trillion yuan. That’s a 0.4 percent drop from April, due to a joint effect of a high base at the same time last year and export challenges such as surging shipping cost.

Tian Yun, former vice director of the Beijing Economic Operation Association, told the Global Times that China’s foreign trade, especially exports, remains resilient amid challenges including a rapid rise in the Chinese yuan’s exchange rate and costs amid high international bulk commodity prices.

Over the first five months of the year, the country’s general commodity trade increased 32 percent year-on-year to 9.12 trillion yuan, according to the GAC.

Its exports of machinery and labor-intensive products also posted growth during January-May. In particular, the exports of automobiles (including chassis) surged 95.8 percent to 75.67 billion yuan, and mobile phone exports were up 28.8 percent to 354.87 billion yuan, while exports of textile products including masks went down 10.3 percent to 364.48 billion yuan, GAC data showed.

Meanwhile, China’s imports of iron ore, soybeans and other major bulk commodities reported growth in both price and volume in the first five months. The country’s imports of iron ore rose 6 percent to 472 million tons, and the price soared 62.7 percent to 1,032.8 yuan per ton. Its imports of soybeans increased 12.8 percent to 38.23 million tons, and the price climbed 18.7 percent to 3,290.7 yuan per ton.

“As a key part of the global industrial and supply chain, China’s robust import and export momentum is boosting the global trade recovery,” Bai Ming, deputy director of the international market research institute at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, a think tank under the Ministry of Commerce, told the Global Times.

During the first five months, China’s foreign trade with major partners including ASEAN, the EU, the US and Japan all reported growth, with ASEAN being the largest trade partner. Over the same period, China’s imports and exports with countries and regions along the Belt and Road Initiative grew 27.4 percent to 4.36 trillion yuan, GAC data showed.

A new report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) projected that the value of global trade in goods and services will hit $6.6 trillion in the second quarter 2021, a year-on-year increase of about 31 percent compared with the lowest point of 2020, with China being one of the main drivers of global growth.

Bai forecast that China’s foreign trade volume will grow by around 20 percent in the second quarter.

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