Review of China’s Foreign Trade in the First Half of 2018

General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China

July 13, 2018

So far this year, as the world economy keeps recovering and the domestic economy steadily improves, China’s imports and exports has registered rapid growth. According to China Customs Statistics, in the first half of 2018, the value of China’s imports and exports in goods stood at RMB14.12 trillion, an increase of 7.9% year-on-year (similarly hereinafter). Exports increased by 4.9% to RMB7.51 trillion and imports grew by 11.5% to RMB6.61 trillion. The trade surplus shrank by 26.7% to RMB 901.32 billion. The details are as follows:


1. The imports and exports under general trade have increased rapidly in value, with a further optimized trade structure. In the first half of the year, the value of China’s imports and exports under general trade rose by 12.2% to RMB8.33 trillion, taking up 59% of the total imports and exports of the country, 2.3 percentage points higher than the previous year.


2. Imports and exports to the three largest trading partners kept growing, and the trade with Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs) witnessed sound growth. In the first half of the year, China’s trade value with EU, US and ASEAN rose by 5.3%, 5.2% and 11%, respectively, the combination of the three accounting for 41% of the country’s total trade value. In the same period, China’s imports and exports to 16 CEECs increased by 14.7%, 6.8 percentage points higher than the national growth rate.


3. Imports and exports of private enterprises covered a larger proportion, suggesting a growing internal impetus. In the first half of the year, the trade value of China’s private enterprises registered RMB5.52 trillion, up by 11.2%, taking up 39.1% of the national total, 1.2 percentage points higher year on year. The export value of private enterprises reached RMB3.57 trillion, an increase of 7.6%, accounting for 47.5% of the national total, remaining the largest among all market operators. The import value reached RMB1.95 trillion, an increase of 18.4%.


4. The imports and exports of central and western China and northeastern China outgrew that of the country, with increased coordination of regional development. In the first half of this year, the foreign trade in 12 western provinces and cities witnessed a growth rate of 17.8%, surpassing that of the country by 9.9 percentage points; 6 provinces and cities in central China 13.2%, surpassing the national growth rate by 5.3 percentage points; 3 provinces in northeastern China 8.8%, surpassing the national growth rate by 0.9 percentage points and 10 provinces and cities in eastern China 6.7%.


5. The electro-mechanical exports kept growing, with enhanced quality and benefit. In the first half of the year, China’s electro-mechanical exports increased by 7% to RMB4.4 trillion, accounting for 58.6% of the total. Electrical equipment and electronic exports grew by 8%, mechanical devices exports by 9%. Over the same period, exports of traditional labor-intensive products were valued at RMB1.41 trillion, down by 4.1%, taking up 18.7% of the total export value.


6. Crude oil, natural gas and fishery imports grew, bearing the influence of the country’s policy to expand imports. In the first half of the year, China imported 225 million tons of crude oil, an increase of 5.8%; 42.08 million tons of natural gas, up by 35.4%; 16.49 million tons of refined oil, up by 9.7%; 2.6 million tons of copper, up by 16.3%. In the same period, fishery imports went up by 12.4%; cosmetic imports doubled; pharmaceutical imports rose by 8%.


In general, in the first half of this year, China’s foreign trade has been steadily growing, with optimized structure, accelerated transformation of growth momentum and increased quality and benefit. However, there will be challenges facing foreign trade with rising instabilities and uncertainties in the global environment.


Under the leadership of Party Central Committee with General Secretary Xi Jinping as the core, guided by Xi Jinping’s thoughts of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era, under the spirits of the Congress of the 19th CPC Central Committee and the first, second and third plenary session, China Customs will faithfully implement plans mapped out at the Central Economic Work Conference. With the general keynote of ensuring a steady progress, we will further implement measures for expanding the reform and opening up policy, advance institutional reform and business innovation in a comprehensive manner so as to facilitate trade and investment and make positive contributions to consistent and stable foreign trade growth.

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General Administration of Customs of the People's Republic of China

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