Category Archives: Trade

Guangdong’s foreign trade revives

Guangdong’s foreign trade is picking up, albeit slowly. Provincial data show total imports and exports in the first four months of the year at 1.92 trillion yuan, a 9.8% YoY drop, but 2 percentage points better than the number reported at the end of March. By month, the YoY contraction in foreign trade has been steadily improving, from -15% in January-February, to -6% in March, and now -4.9% in April.

Part of the reason for this narrowing has been the pickup in exports of medical equipment, which in April were up 52% YoY, pharmaceuticals, up 67.9%, and masks, which jumped by four times the amount shipped a year ago.

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Guangdong exports, imports in the red

Just as the US and China have put the ink on a much-anticipated “phase one” trade deal, latest data from Guangdong shows just how severe a toll the trade war has exacted on the province, China’s biggest in terms of foreign trade.

For the year to November, Guangdong’s imports and exports were 6.41 trillion yuan, 1.7% down on the same period last year. 

That doesn’t appear to have daunted local media, however, which were quick to point out that the month of November marked an inflection point, as imports and exports clocked in at 651.26 billion yuan, a month-on-month increase of 0.7%.

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Dongguan cross-border e-commerce keeps surging

Dongguan’s cross-border e-commerce industry continues to accelerate, with its key bonded logistics centre in Shatian seeing exponential growth, according to local media. Located inside the Binhaiwan Bay Area, one of the ten cores of the GBA masterplan’s Science and Technology Innovation Corridor, the center has recorded 1.6 million packages delivered for the year ended November 30, almost six times the total volume of last year. 

It is not only happening in Shatian. Since Dongguan was designated a national-level pilot zone for the cross-border e-commerce industry last July, a number of bonded logistics centres, which are duty-free, have been opened in Qingxi, Humen, and Fenggang town. Humen’s is a national-level zone.

With imported goods entering the bonded parks via “fast track” channels, without customs declaration, processing times have been sharply shortened, said Huang Guohua, deputy director of Shatian’s customs, as quoted by local media.

According to official data, total cross-border e-commerce trade in Dongguan hit 37.01 billion yuan last year, up 133% YoY. The number for the first nine months this year totalled 29 billion, retaining the top spot across the country.

Exports strong as Foshan grows trade 6.6%

Foshan’s foreign trade numbers appear to be holding steady, with total exports and imports for the first 10 months at 402.79 billion yuan, up 6.6% YoY. Exports were fairly strong, up 7.4% at 312.54 billion yuan, while imports were up 4.1% at 90.25 billion yuan.

According to official data, Foshan’s traditional exports, such as home appliances, furniture, and ceramics, have remained stable, while cross-border e-commerce has been surging, up 1.2 times, albeit still only at 6.35 billion yuan.

Although trade with the United States was flat, at 51.55 billion yuan, trade with ASEAN was up 16.8% to 69.25 billion yuan, while trade with the EU was up 11.5% to 52.68 billion yuan.

Read more (in Chinese).

Canton Fair down in numbers, up in spirits

The country’s biggest trade fair wrapped up this week with disappointing numbers but buoyant hopes for an upturn, according to local media. This was for two reasons: the US-China trade talks appeared to be edging toward an agreement that could see tariffs start to be lifted; and there had been a surge in orders from Asean countries, i.e., the Belt and Road Initiative appears to be working.

Nothing could dampen the mood of the fair’s irrepressible spokesperson, Xu Bing, deputy director of the China Foreign Trade Centre, who pointed out that although orders were down 1.9% in comparison to last year’s Fall session, they were up from the Spring session held earlier this year: RMB 207.09 billion vs RMB 199.5 billion.

Moreover, although attendance of 186,000 was the lowest since 2017, the 2% decline was less than the 3.9% year-over-year drop at the Spring session.

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Shenzhen’s exports hold up

As trade negotiators from the US and China work hard to polish their latest agreement, Shenzhen is providing the Chinese side with confidence. The country’s top technology export machine is doing okay. 

Despite a slowdown in trade with its largest traditional trading partner, it would seem that exports to the EU and countries along the Belt and Road Initiative are keeping the engines going in Shenzhen. Exports for the first three quarters are RMB 1.2 trillion, up 4.8% YoY. 

Overall trade with the EU during this period was up 15.5%. BRI countries came next, at +5.7%. ASEAN countries were up just +2.7%. 

Private enterprises continued to lead the way, up 5.1%, accounting for 57.7% of total trade. This drove the foreign trade growth of the entire city by 2.7 percentage points.

Highlights included electric motorcycles and bicycles. Shenzhen exported 2.471 million of them in the first three quarters, up 54.4%, while their value was RMB 2.21 billion, up 83%.

Import were boosted by agricultural products: Imports of fresh and dried fruits and nuts rose 19.5%; meat by 40.3%; and aquatic and marine products by 28.9%.

Dongguan cross-border e-commerce surges

Since being designated a national-level pilot zone for cross-border e-commerce just over a year ago, Dongguan has seen its international online trading business take off. According to official data, total cross-border e-commerce trade in Dongguan hit RMB 37.01 billion in 2018, more than double (+113%) 2017’s total.

It was only in July last year that Dongguan was formally approved as a national cross-border e-commerce “comprehensive pilot zone”, giving it some additional relief from red tape. That was after just five years of development, which involved developing trading systems, customs clearance supervision, and construction of special bonded parks. 

This year, the trend has continued, despite the slowdown in the external trade environment. Official data shows that in the first eight months of this year, the city’s e-commerce trade volume was RMB 26.97 billion, up 12.0%.

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Zhongshan and Jiangmen post weak trade data

Two of the Greater Bay’s western cities have posted weak trade numbers for the year to date, with Zhongshan slowing in September while neighboring Jiangmen continues to struggle.

Official data shows Zhongshan’s total foreign trade from January to September 2019 at RMB 181.55 billion, up 5.3% compared with the same period of last year. Exports were strong at RMB 146.84 billion, up 11.1%, but imports fell 13.7% to RMB 34.71 billion. 

These numbers were a deceleration, however. In September alone, the import and export value of Zhongshan was RMB 19.5 billion, down 5.1%. Exports were RMB 15.89 billion, up 0.2%, and imports were RMB 3.61 billion RMB, down 23.1%. 

Explanations focused on the drop in trade with the US, which was being slowly replaced by trade with Belt and Road Initiative countries.

In Jiangmen, the picture was one of a more constant decline over the same period. Total trade in the year to date was RMB 105.4 billion, decreasing 1.9% compared with the same period last year. Exports totaled 84.19 billion RMB, up 2.2%; imports were RMB 21.21 billion RMB, down 15.6%.

Jiangmen’s trade with BRI countries was also picking up slowly, up just 0.9%, but trade with the EU was holding up, at +7.6%, while ASEAN trade grew 5.4%

Canton Fair focuses on Belt and Road

The semi-annual Canton Fair started its Fall session last week, and all indications are that business volumes are not dropping, so far. Exhibitor numbers and floorspace covered are up. Although it is too early to release visitor numbers, feedback from attendees, as reported by local media, is generally cautious but optimistic, with particular focus on trade with countries along the Belt and Road Initiative. 

Discussion of the US-China trade war was mostly avoided, although officials cast an optimistic tone. Xu Bing, spokesman for the fair, told local reporters that it was expected that US purchasers will “remain stable”.

Xu pointed to recent news suggesting that US-China trade negotiations were making progress, which, he said, will raise the expectations of foreign buyers. “We expect US buyers to remain stable and still be one of the top three foreign buyers in the Canton Fair,” he said.

Around 25,000 exhibitors set up displays on the opening day last week (the fair runs for three weeks). There were 60,676 booths covering more than 1.19 million sq ft. All these numbers were slightly up on the Spring session, organizers said.

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