China Customs valued the country’s goods exports in January-February at 350 billion dollars, a 5 % decrease from the first two months of 2018. Imports contracted by nearly 3 % y-o-y to 310 billion dollars. The foreign trade surplus shrank by 10 billion dollars from a year earlier and stood at 40 billion dollars. Both exports and imports measured in yuan were about the same in January-February as a year ago.
Measured in dollars, the value of exports to the US in the first two months of the year declined by nearly 15 % y-o-y. Exports to the EU and ASEAN countries still grew slightly, but the pace of growth slowed noticeably. In terms of product categories, the largest contractions in exports were seen in phones (down 24 %), clothing (down 15 %) and footwear (down 11 %). Exports of electronic devices other than phones also contracted. Exports of microchips and refined oil products increased by roughly 20 %.
In January-February, China imported 35 % less goods from the United States than a year earlier. Imports contracted sharply also from ASEAN countries (down 10 %) and South Korea (down 14 %). Imports from the EU increased by a few per cent. Imports from many commodity-producing countries, including Russia, showed robust growth.
The manufacturing purchasing manager index for February reflected shrinking export orders, an indication of a deteriorating export outlook in the months ahead.