China's foreign trade up 5% in Q1, hits new records

Updated: Apr 15, 2024 Xinhua Print
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Photo shows a view of Nansha Port in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong province. [Photo provided to]

BEIJING -- China's total import and export of goods expanded 5 percent year on year in yuan terms in the first quarter of 2024, setting new records in both scale and growth rate, official data showed Friday.

From January to March, the country's foreign trade in goods stood at 10.17 trillion yuan (about $1.43 trillion), according to the General Administration of Customs (GAC).

Exports from the world's second-biggest economy were 4.9 percent higher year on year to reach 5.74 trillion yuan, while imports rose 5 percent to 4.43 trillion yuan, the data showed.

Historically, for the first time, the country's foreign trade scale has exceeded 10 trillion yuan during the same period, while the growth rate has hit a six-quarter high, GAC deputy head Wang Lingjun told a press conference.

In the first quarter, China's trade with countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and other BRICS nations has shown a growth rate that surpasses the overall growth rate.

Trade with BRI partner countries reached 4.82 trillion yuan, marking a 5.5 percent increase and accounting for 47.4 percent of China's total trade volume, the data showed. Trade with the European Union, the United States, the Republic of Korea, and Japan accounted for a combined share of 33.4 percent of the total.

Trade with Latin America and the five Central Asian countries has achieved double-digit growth. In the same period, the trade with traditional markets such as the United States and Japan has shown a positive recovery, with the decline in the first quarter imports and exports narrowing by 5.9 percentage points and 1.2 percentage points, respectively, compared to 2023.

Structurally, China's export portfolio has demonstrated strength in the machinery and electronics sector, as well as labor-intensive products, signaling the continued international competitiveness of these goods. Imports of bulk commodities and consumer goods have expanded steadily, indicating a healthy and growing domestic demand.

Amid profound shifts in the international environment and numerous severe challenges facing global economic development, China's foreign trade sector is confronted with heightened tests, Wang said.

"However, amid these external pressures, the fundamental strength of China's economy remains on an upward trajectory, with a solid foundation underpinning the sustained improvement in its foreign trade," he noted.

It is expected that China's imports and exports will continue to show an upward trend in the second quarter of 2024, and the first half of the year is anticipated to register a growth trajectory, said Wang.

China has targeted its economic growth at around 5 percent for 2024, a goal that officials and experts believe is well within reach considering the country's sound economic fundamentals and supportive macroeconomic policy mix.

The latest trade figures have joined a series of positive economic data points emerging since March. The purchasing managers' index (PMI), a critical gauge of manufacturing and services sector health, has also reported improvements in March, with PMI for the manufacturing sector bouncing back to the expansion zone.

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