Shenzhen’s foreign trade stats point to change

There is an interesting change under way in the structure of Shenzhen’s economy, which is starting to show up better in its trade statistics. While imports continue to fall, exports are recovering, according to the latest data from the city’s Customs. Overall trade at RMB1.34 trillion for the first half was down 0.9% YoY, which was 0.6 percentage points lower than the previous five months, i.e. June saw a continued deceleration. This was due to sagging demand for imports, at RMB580.08 billion, which were down 7.8% (0.8 percentage points lower than the previous five months). Exports got a boost, however, apparently from targeted rebate support in certain sectors as well as new sectors taking off. They reached RMB757.14 billion, up 5.1%, which was 0.3 percentage points higher than the previous five months). 

Belt and Road Initiative countries continued to pick up the slack from falling trade with the US. They came in at RMB284.14 billion, up 5.7%, followed by ASEAN countries at RMB184.13 billion, up 2.5%. Fastest-growing was the EU, at RMB142.62 billion, up 14.1%. 

Perhaps more importantly, private enterprises continue to grow their share of foreign trade, with volumes reaching RMB775.42 billion, up 4.4%, accounting for 58% of the total.

The tech industry, which goes by the unglamorous catch-all category of “electromechanicalproducts”, saw exports grow 2.5% to RMB581.57 billion. The standout was integrated circuits (hello, Huawei!), which grew by 68.9%. 

Some older sectors benefited from targeted export-tax rebates. Lighting equipment was up 21.8%, while labor-intensive products were up 10.9%, of which apparel grew by 6.3% and plastic products by 18.7%.

Imports are clearly still a cause for concern. However, look more closely and the rise of consumers over producers is becoming clearer. Shenzhen is a modern city. It should be seeing consumer products rising faster than materials. In the first half, the imports of fresh and dried fruits and nuts rose by 19. 7%, meat by 31.2%,pharmaceuticals by 28.7%, and aquatic and ocean products by 19%.

Tell us what you think