China's goods trade surplus shrinks in Q1: customs data
The latest customs data show that China's trade surplus shrunk, while imports grew faster than exports, in the first quarter of the year, demonstrating that China is seeing a better balance of trade.
China's goods imports grew 11.7 percent in the first three months of the year, while exports rose 7.4 percent year on year.
That resulted in a trade surplus of 326.18 billion yuan, or about 51.85 billion U.S. dollars, shrinking 21.8 percent.
The total foreign trade volume reached 6.75 trillion yuan in the first quarter, expanding 9.4 percent from that of the same period last year.
Huang Songping, a spokesperson with the General Administration of Customs, said the fast trade growth resulted from a mild global economic recovery, as well as the sound development of the domestic economy.
He added that the first-quarter growth was also supported by steady progress of the Belt and Road Initiative and stronger trading with emerging markets.
Huang Songping, spokesperson with China's General Administration of Customs, speaks at a press conference in Beijing on April 13, 2018. [Photo: customs.gov.cn]
"In the first quarter, China's trade volume with countries along the Belt and Road routes grew by 12.9 percent, 3.5 percentage points faster than the overall increase. China's import and export with the emerging markets in Latin America and Africa increased by 14 and 12.4 percent respectively," said Huang.
The top three trading partners of China were the European Union, the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Trade between China and the U.S. rose 13 percent in dollar-denominated terms, with Chinese exports to the U.S. increasing 14.8 percent, and their trade surplus in the first three months stood at 58.25 billion dollars.
"We should have an objective and reasonable view of the trade imbalance between China and the U.S. We never pursue trade surpluses. The current trade status has been determined by the market and in the end by the economic structures, industrial competitiveness and the international division of labor. If we take into account factors such as the way of calculation, transit trade and service trade, the real trade surplus is not as big as it may look," said Huang.
In terms of China's foreign trade in the second quarter, the spokesperson said he's optimistic about the result despite various uncertainties.
"Pressure and challenges for the global economy and international trade in the second quarter will continue to rise. However, just as what President Xi Jinping stressed in his keynote speech at the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference, economic globalization has become an irreversible historical trend, and China will take major measures to expand opening up. In general, I expect China's foreign trade to maintain an upward trend in the second quarter," said Huang.