US urged to loosen high-tech curbs on China as bilateral trade slumps 11.6% in 2023
Published: Jan 12, 2024 10:31 PM


Trade between China and the US recorded a slump of 11.6 percent year-on-year in US dollar terms in 2023, Chinese customs said on Friday, a result largely due to declines in global demand and US export sanctions continuing to impede US firms' exports to China, observers said.

China's trade with the US dropped by 11.6 percent and fell to $664 billion last year, according to data from the General Administration of Customs of China. China's imports from the US dropped by 6.8 percent, totaling $164.16 billion, while exports to the US slumped by 13.1 percent, reaching $500.03 billion.

China's 2023 full-year trade surplus with the US stood at $336 billion.

It's the first fall since 2019, according to the AFP.

"The fall in the bilateral trade volume was largely due to US curbs on the Chinese high-tech industry, which has impeded US' exports of many high-tech products to China," Gao Lingyun, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Friday.

In a phone call with US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on Thursday, Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao raised "serious concerns" over US restrictions on third-party countries' exports of a crucial chipmaking tool to China and crackdowns on Chinese firms.

Separately, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) blasted the direct interference of the US in a Dutch company's exports of photolithography machines to China, vowing that China would take necessary measures to protect firms' legal rights and interests.

While the phone call sends another positive signal of continued engagement between Chinese and US trade officials, its effect on improving ties depends on whether the US turns its words into action, Chinese experts said, noting that a lift of bans and tariffs on Chinese companies and products will determine the direction of bilateral trade. 

The essence of China-US economic and trade cooperation is mutual benefit, and there is no winner in a trade war or "decoupling" push, Gao said, predicting that trade between the world's two largest economies will not experience major declines in 2024.

Observers said the decline was also due to a slowdown in global trade in 2023, as higher interest rates in the US, Europe and other major consumer markets crimped demand.

China's foreign trade grew 0.2 percent year-on-year to 41.76 trillion yuan ($5.83 trillion) in 2023, with December data showing expansion at a rate of 2.8 percent in yuan-denominated terms, customs data showed on Friday, which adds to an array of positive signs underscoring that the world's second-largest economy is consolidating its recovery momentum despite multiple pressures.

Global Times