China announces better-than-expected trade figures amid trade war with US
Published: Nov 08, 2019 03:48 PM

Imported soybeans seen at a port in Nantong, East China's Jiangsu Province. Photo: IC

China released its October trade figures on Friday, with both imports and exports data showing signs of recovery and surpassing forecasts amid a global economic downturn and a long-standing China-US trade war.

Analysts said that although both imports and exports declined in October, indicating there is still downward pressure on the Chinese economy, the better-than-expected data still shows the resilience of the Chinese economy and increasing competitiveness of Chinese products.

According to data released by the General Administration of Customs on Friday, in the first 10 months of the year, China's total trade reached 25.63 trillion yuan ($3.67 trillion), an increase of 2.4 percent year-on-year. Exports totaled 13.99 trillion yuan, up 4.9 percent from a year earlier. Imports in the first 10 months reached 11.64 trillion yuan, a decrease of 0.4 percent year-on-year.

In October, in dollar terms, China's exports were down 0.9 percent, and imports were down 6.4 percent, customs data showed. Analysts had predicted a 3.9 percent drop in exports and 7.8 percent drop in imports.

"The better-than-expected figures also showed that the negative impact brought by the China-US trade war has been largely offset by the growth generated from the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and from Southeast Asian countries," Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Friday.

Customs data showed that China's trade surplus with the US in the first 10 months was 1.7 trillion yuan ($243.65 billion), expanding by 0.8 percent year-on-year. Imports from the US fell by 21.5 percent and exports to the US fell by 6.8 percent.

Bai noted that the increasing trade surplus between China and US also showed the increasing competitiveness of Chinese products, and that it was difficult for the US to find alternatives.

Market participants also expected a trade deal to be signed soon between the two, hoping that an easing of trade tension between the world's two largest economies could inject fresh momentum into both countries and a slowing world economy.

On Thursday, China's Commerce Ministry said that China had agreed with the US to lift existing trade tariffs between the two nations in phases. 

However, Bai said that it will still take time before a further boost in trade figures could be seen, as traders from the two countries will take a cautious attitude before the official announcement saying the tariffs could be reduced.

Experts also believed that China's efforts to open up the financial sector will also be a stimulus to the domestic economy.

Global index provider MSCI announced on Thursday announced that Chinese mainland stocks, or A shares, will rise to a weight of 4.1 percent in the MSCI Emerging Market Index, up from 2.55 percent currently, as it implements the final step of the weight increase of Chinese shares in its emerging markets benchmark.

It has been estimated that the increase in allocation of A shares will bring an inflow of over 410 billion yuan to the A-share market.