For the first half of 2021, the value of Chinese exports rose in dollar terms by 30 % y-o-y and 38 % from 1H19. In the second quarter (April-June), the value of Chinese goods exports rose to $809 billion, a 30 % increase compared to 2Q20 or 2Q19.
The value of Chinese imports continued to increase as well. April-June imports were $669 billion, up by 44 % from 2Q20 and up 30 % from 2Q19. The on-year increase in commodity prices partly explains the higher overall value of imports. At the same time, the import volumes of commodities have begun to decline as prices have risen. The June import volumes for crude oil, iron ore and copper fell slightly both on year and compered to early 2021. China imported an exceptionally large amount of semiconductors and other electronic components throughout the second quarter, however.
The restriction on foreign travel caused by the pandemic continue to be reflected in China’s services imports. The value of tourism imports in January-May was only 34 % of the same period in 2019, and therefore China’s overall services imports remained well below pre-pandemic levels.
China’s foreign trade with all its main trading partners (i.e. ASEAN countries, the EU, the US and Japan) increased in the first half of this year. Growth in global economic demand has kept Chinese foreign trade humming since the second half of 2020. Uncertainty about future business conditions, however, has been heightened by the emergence of new coronavirus variants, disruptions in supply chains and rising commodity and transport prices. The latest readings of new export orders subcategory in China’s official manufacturing purchasing manager index (PMI) was well below 50 for both May and June, suggesting that the export outlook may be cooling.
Volumes of China’s key commodity imports fell slightly in June
Sources: China Customs, Macrobond and BOFIT.