Review of China's Foreign Trade in the First Quarter of 2021
General Administration of Customs
People's Republic of China
April 13, 2021
(The Chinese version shall prevail.)
In the first quarter of 2021, under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with President Xi Jinping at its core, China’s measures to coordinate pandemic response with socio-economic development have continued to pay off and foreign trade has made a good start.
According to Customs statistics, in the first quarter of 2021, China’s foreign trade volume in goods reached RMB8.47 trillion, up by 29.2% on a yearly basis. Exports grew by 38.7% to RMB4.61 trillion and imports increased by 19.3% to RMB3.86 trillion. The trade surplus surged by 690.6% to RMB759.29 billion.
The details are as follows:
1. Private enterprises have become more vibrant.
In the first quarter of 2021, China’s private enterprises remained the largest part in China’s foreign trade with imports and exports rising by 42.7% to RMB3.95 trillion, accounting for 46.7% of the country’s total foreign trade volume, 4.4 percentage points higher year-on-year. Exports stood at RMB2.55 trillion, up by 50%. Imports reached RMB1.4 trillion, an increase of 31%. Foreign-invested enterprises grew by 22.7% to RMB3.19 trillion in imports and exports, accounting for 37.7% of the country’s total foreign trade volume. State-owned enterprises went up by 11% to RMB1.28 trillion in imports and exports, taking up 15.2% of the total foreign trade volume.
2. Foreign trade with major trading partners kept growing.
In the first quarter of 2021, ASEAN, the EU, the US and Japan, as China's top four trading partners, saw trade volumes with China reach RMB1.24 trillion, RMB1.19 trillion, RMB1.08 trillion and RMB561.42 billion, up by 26.1%, 36.4%, 61.3% and 20.8%, respectively. Trade with countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative and RCEP trading partners grew by 21.4% and 22.9%, respectively.
3. Proportion of general trade in foreign trade increased.
In the first quarter of 2021, China's general trade rose by 32% to RMB5.19 trillion, accounting for 61.2% of China’s total foreign trade volume, 1.3 percentage points higher than the previous year. Exports increased by 43.4% to RMB2.79 trillion. Imports grew by 20.8% to RMB2.4 trillion. Processing trade went up by 22.5% to RMB1.91 trillion, taking up 22.6% of the country’s total foreign trade volume.
4. Electro-mechanical products accounted for over 60% of exports.
In the first quarter of 2021, China’s exports of electro-mechanical products grew by 43% to RMB2.78 trillion, making up 60.3% of total exports, 1.7 percentage points higher than the previous year. Exports of automatic data processing machines and components, mobile phones and motor vehicles (including chassis) increased by 54.5%, 38.5% and 98.9%, respectively. Exports of anti-epidemic materials kept growing and exports of textile products including face masks rose by 30.6%.
5. Imports of major commodities increased.
In the first quarter of 2021, China imported 283 million tons of iron ore, up by 8%; 139 million tons of crude oil, up by 9.5%; 29.388 million tons of natural gas, up by 19.6%. Imports of soybeans grew by 19% to 21.178 million tons. Imports of corn surged by 437.8% to 6.727 million tons. Imports of wheat increased by 131.2% to 2.925 million tons.
Overall, China's foreign trade has been recovering and growing since this year, witnessing more positive factors. Meanwhile, it is noted that as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread worldwide, the international economic landscape remains grim and complicated, and foreign trade is faced with instability and uncertainties.
China Customs, guided by Xi Jinping’s Thoughts on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, will implement the spirit of the Central Economic Work Conference and the overall plan of the Report on the Work of the Government. In principle of pursuing progress while ensuring stability, the Customs will work to ensure stability on the six fronts and security in the six areas and take more robust measures to carry out all work in a solid manner, thus ensuring the good start of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) in the development of foreign trade.