After record year, China moves to tackle ‘unprecedented’ challenges for export in 2022
Published: Jan 25, 2022 04:20 PM
A container terminal of Yangshan Port in Shanghai Photo: VCG

A container terminal of Yangshan Port in Shanghai Photo: VCG

China's foreign trade moved up another notch in 2021, exceeding the $6 trillion milestone, which has played an irreplaceable role in stabilizing global trade despite the headwinds caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Considering the high base effect, it will be very difficult for this year' trade volume to surpass last year, commerce ministry officials said Tuesday, stressing the focus on improving trade quality.

"Based on last year's high-speed growth base, this year's foreign trade situation is severe, and the difficulty and pressure of stabilizing growth are unprecedented," Li Xingqian, head of the Department of Foreign Trade of the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), told a press conference on Tuesday.

"This year, foreign trade will focus on keeping stability while maintaining progress. Compared with the expansion of quantity, we will pay more attention to the improvement of quality," Li said.

Li said: "We have the confidence to realize a stable beginning of foreign trade and keep it running within a reasonable range throughout the year."

According to Li, both the demand and supply sides face uncertainties this year. The uneven recovery pace of different countries has led to rising global systemic risks as the recovery gap between low-income countries and developed ones has continued to widen.

The rapid withdrawal of stimulus policies in some countries may lead to shrinking demand and price fluctuations, which in turn affects the exports of China's related industries.

Meanwhile, the global supply chain volatility cannot be easily alleviated in the short term, Li said. Problems such as high raw material prices and shortages of important components such as semiconductors have persisted. The comprehensive costs of domestic trading firms, especially small and medium-sized ones, have risen significantly. 

To enhance the comprehensive competitiveness of the trade sector, China will take relevant measures in 2022 including further improving the role of export credit insurance and the ability of enterprises to deal with forex exchange rate risks, guiding enterprises to consolidate traditional markets while develop emerging markets, and cultivating various platforms such as national processing trade industrial parks to promote smooth logistics and settlement.

China's foreign trade volume reached $6.05 trillion in 2021, up 21.4 percent year-on-year, surpassing the $6 trillion milestone for the first time, despite the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to weigh on global trade, according to data revealed from the General Administration of Customs (GAC) earlier this month.

"The hard-won growth figure will consolidate China's leading position in global trade," Bai Ming, deputy director of the international market research institute at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The achievement came as resurgence in COVID-19 infections, dominated by the Delta and Omicron variants, dealt a major blow to global supply chains and seriously disrupted the flow of goods.

"As the world's manufacturing powerhouse, China has played an irreplaceable role in ensuring the smooth flow of the world supply chain, buckling the world trade despite the ravaging pandemic," Bai said.

When many parts of the world grappled with closed factories and congestion at ports and railway stations, China, the first major economy to emerge from the pandemic, transported badly-needed products, from daily necessities to electronics and medicines, to marketplaces across the globe.

China has provided the most vaccines in the world over the past year with more than 2 billion doses being sent abroad. The country provided about 372 billion face masks, more than 4.2 billion pieces of protective gowns, and 8.4 billion test reagents to the international community as of the end of 2021, data from the National Bureau of Statistics revealed.