The latest foreign trade figures released by China Customs show that the value of goods exports in January-March grew by 16 % y-o-y, while the value of imports rose by 11 %. In February and March, growth in foreign trade slowed. March imports grew by just 1 % y-o-y. The logistical problems caused by covid lockdowns worsened in April and May. According the PBoC’s latest balance-of-payments figures, goods and services trade growth was roughly in line with the customs statistics. In January-March, the value of goods and services exports rose by 18 % y-o-y and the value of imports by 16 %. The relative size of the current account surplus remained unchanged at 1.8 % of GDP.
In the wake of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the value of China’s goods exports to Russia contracted by 8 % y-o-y in March. China’s exports to Russia accounted for 1.4 % of total exports. Nearly half of China’s exports to Russia consisted of machinery, equipment and electronic devices. The value of machinery and mechanical appliance exports to Russia rose in March by 13 % y-o-y, while the value of electronics exports to Russia fell by 29 %. The value of exports of transport vehicles (12 % of China’s total exports to Russia) was up by 33 %, while the value of textile exports was down by 19 %.
Surging commodity prices boosted the value of Chinese goods imports from Russia by 26 % y-o-y in March. Imports from Russia represented 3.4 % of China’s total goods imports. Mineral products (mainly crude oil) accounted for 80 % of the value of Russian imports. Their declared value according to China Customs was up by over 40 % y-o-y. The value of other goods imported from Russia declined.
The rise in the value of Russian imports came entirely from higher prices; the volumes of all major energy commodities imported from Russia declined. The volume of China’s crude oil imports from Russia fell by 14 % y-o-y in March. Russia’s share of China’s crude oil imports remained steady at 15 % as China’s total oil imports were down by 14 %. The volumes of other energy imports from Russia in March were also down, e.g. coal (-31 % y-o-y) and liquefied natural gas (-2 %).
The growth in Chinese exports to Russia slowed in the first quarter in all major goods categories
Sources: China Customs, CEIC and BOFIT.