China’s imports, exports rebound above pre-virus levels in Jan-Oct, but pressure persists
But pressure persists as monthly imports, exports growth slows
Published: Nov 07, 2021 08:58 PM


China's total imports and exports reached $4.89 trillion in US dollar terms in the first 10 months of 2021, increasing 31.9 percent from a year earlier and exceeding the full-year reading for 2019 before the epidemic, data from the General Administration of Customs (GAC) showed on Sunday.

The robust trade data with double-digit growth in both imports and experts during the period were supported by a combination of factors, including China's complete and resilient supply chain, strict but necessary epidemic prevention, booming global demand for Chinese goods, analysts noted. 


However, total trade volume fell in October with imports growth falling below expectations amid new COVID-19 outbreaks, logistics hurdles and a power crunch. But analysts said that growth rate for trade will likely be maintained at around or above 20 percent for the rest of the year.

Data released by the GAC on Sunday showed that exports reached $2.7 trillion for the first 10 months, a year-on-year increase of 32.3 percent, while imports saw a significant 31.4 percent increase, reaching $2.19 trillion.

China's trade with major partners such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the EU and the US all witnessed robust growth in the first 10 months of 2021.

ASEAN remained China's largest trading partner, with a total of $703.34 billion, an increase of 30 percent. Trade with the EU, China's second-largest partner, stood at $670.38 billion, an increase of 30 percent.

The increase in trade between China and the US was the largest among the top three trading partners, rising 33.4 percent year-on-year, and the total value stood at $609.94 billion.

The solid trade growth with the US was mostly driven by China's growing imports of agricultural goods and bulk commodities amid China's implementation of the phase one trade agreement and the expansion of power supplies, experts said.

The trend is expected to further extend into the rest of the year, given the rising possibilities for improvements in bilateral trade relations, after the US side said that it would consider removing tariffs imposed on Chinese goods, which is hurting US consumers and businesses, according to experts.

During the same period, China's total trade with countries and regions along the Belt and Road Initiative also grew 23 percent increase year-on-year to 9.3 trillion yuan ($1.45 trillion), the GAC data showed. 

The great jump of China's foreign trade has to do with the fact that Chinese supply chains continue to be among the most advanced in the world, while factories elsewhere have been disrupted by the ongoing pandemic, Li Changan, professor of the Academy of China Open Economy Studies at the University of International Business and Economics, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

This trend has enabled China to provide much-needed goods, ranging from epidemic preventative items to home appliances that the world needed.

"China's role of being the world's major goods producer will remain, and trade will further increase for the rest of the year, further ignited by the shopping season ahead of Christmas and the New Year," Li said.

The total import and export value for October alone fell 5.6 percent month-on-month, data from the GAC showed. Experts said that this was within expectations, given the power curbs in several parts of China amid high coal prices and tight supplies, as well as strict but necessary epidemic prevention and control at border ports.

The country's exports in US dollar terms in October increased by 27.1 percent year-on-year to $300.2 billion, per customs data. 

The October export growth, a double-digit gain for the 13th consecutive month, exceeded market expectations of around 23 percent. 

The year-on-year growth rate of imports accelerated to 20.6 percent in October, but it was lower than economists' expectations of around 26 percent.

But with tight coal supplies having been largely alleviated and inventories rising at most of the power plants across the country, Tian Yun, a Beijing-based economist, said, predicting that the growth rate of imports and exports will remain above 20 percent monthly in November and December.

China-US trade, which plays a potentially rising role in overall trade, will see a solid growth for the rest of the year, experts said.

"Our exports to the US may maintain same levels for the rest of the year, while China's imports from the US will definitely be better than this current level, because of the potential improvement of bilateral relations," Gao Lingyun, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing who closely follows China-US trade talks, told the Global Times on Sunday.