China's foreign trade remains stable despite weak external demand
This aerial photo taken on July 19, 2023 shows a container terminal of Tangshan Port in Tangshan, north China's Hebei Province. [Xinhua/Yang Shiyao]
BEIJING -- Despite weak external demand, China's imports and exports maintained stable development in the first eight months of 2023, with better performance, improved structure and greater resilience, data showed Thursday.
The country's total imports and exports in yuan terms edged down 0.1 percent year on year to 27.08 trillion yuan (about 3.76 trillion U.S. dollars) in the January-August period, according to the General Administration of Customs (GAC).
Exports grew 0.8 percent year on year during the period, while imports declined 1.3 percent from a year earlier.
The data revealed that in August alone, the country's foreign trade declined 2.5 percent from a year ago, but expanded 3.9 percent from the previous month.
"The country's foreign trade operation has remained generally stable," GAC official Lyu Daliang said.
Despite tepid external demand, the country's foreign trade volume has remained high. The total foreign trade in August surpassed the average amount for the same period between 2020 and 2022 by 8.2 percent, according to Lyu.
Monthly data has also indicated improvement. Although exports and imports declined, down 3.2 percent and 1.6 percent year on year, respectively, last month, the pace of decline for both eased when compared to July figures.
The country's trade surplus contracted 8.2 percent year on year to 488 billion yuan last month, according to the data.
In the first eight months of 2023, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) remained China's largest trade partner. China's trade with ASEAN countries rose 1.6 percent year on year, accounting for 15.2 percent of the country's total trade value.
While China saw its trade with the European Union, the United States and Japan fall 1.5 percent, 8.7 percent and 6.8 percent, respectively, it witnessed trade growth with other markets.
China's trade with five Central Asian countries recorded strong growth, soaring 34.1 percent year on year, while its trade with countries along the Belt and Road rose 3.6 percent year on year.
A breakdown of the data showed that China's exports of machinery and electronic products, which accounted for 58 percent of total exports, increased 3.6 percent during the period.
Auto exports remained a bright spot, with the export value of automobiles surging 104.4 percent from a year earlier in the first eight months.
China's import volume of crude oil surged by 14.7 percent during the first eight months of the year, surpassing the 12.4 percent increase observed in the initial seven months. Similarly, the import volume of iron ore exhibited accelerated growth, rising by 7.4 percent year on year during this period, as compared to the 6.9 percent increase recorded from January to July.