We have been waiting for Guangdong’s foreign trade data since the national Customs administration indicated recently that the country overall had seen its exports hold up in May. We had already seen Shenzhen’s numbers last week, which were decent, too. Today we see that the province as a whole saw exports accelerate their recent YoY growth trend.
Total foreign trade for the first five months was RMB2.71 trillion (US$393.9 billion), up 1.4% year on year, according to the Guangdong customs bureau. Exports were up 4%, which was faster than the 2.4% growth recorded in the first four months of the year. Imports were down, by 2.2%
Trade was down with Hong Kong (-0.4%) and the U.S. (-3%), which are collectively still the province’s biggest trading partners. However, trade picked up with the EU, ASEAN, and a wide range of countries defined as Belt and Road Initiative partners. EU trade was up 15.7% to RMB340.48 billion, ASEAN was up 3% to RMB360.58 billion, and BRI countries, which collectively account for around one-fourth of total trade, was up 3.9% to RMB629.94 billion.
The quality of the trade appears to be improving, too. “Processing trade” – assembly of goods for re-export – fell 5.8 percent, although it still accounted for 32.7% of the total foreign trade at RMB886.4 billion. Cross-border e-commerce trade, albeit still small at RMB34.5 billion yuan, was up 73.2 percent.
It will no doubt please Beijing to see that private enterprises increased their share of Guangdong’s foreign trade to above the 50% mark, up 5.8% during the period.
The news was not all bad on imports, either, as consumer goods increased strongly, up 22.3% from the previous year. That suggests consumer demand is replacing demand for materials and goods needed for low-end export manufacturing.