Foreign trade to stay resilient this year


Strong footing: Electric cars for export stacked at the Taicang Port in Suzhou. China’s GDP grew 5.3% year-on-year in the first quarter, providing a solid foundation for consolidating the fundamentals of foreign trade. — AFP

BEIJING: China’s foreign trade, buoyed by the steady upturn of the domestic economy and an improved trading structure increasingly driven by high-tech and green products and export market diversification, will continue to exhibit resilience this year, according to officials and executives.

That said, weighed down by sluggish external demand, intensifying geopolitical tensions and rising trade protectionism, the growth of the country’s foreign trade is not without challenges, they said, calling for more forceful measures to help businesses better navigate the complex international landscape.

“The performance of foreign trade is closely linked to the domestic economy,” Guo Tingting, Vice-Minister of Commerce, said at a news conference, adding that the gross domestic product of the world’s second-largest economy grew 5.3% year-on-year in the first quarter, providing a solid foundation for consolidating the fundamentals of foreign trade.

Moreover, business expectations are consistently improving, as shown by a recent survey conducted by the ministry among over 20,000 exhibitors at the ongoing Canton Fair.

The survey revealed that 81.5% of the respondents reported an increase or stability in their orders, marking a 16.8-percentage-point increase from the previous session.

Chinese manufacturers have been focusing on developing and exporting products which are technologically advanced, environmentally friendly and possess high added value, fuelling the country’s efforts to optimise its trading mix, said Li Xingqian, director-general of the ministry’s department of foreign trade.

The combined export value of new energy vehicles (NEV), lithium batteries and solar products, known as the “new three items”, for instance, stood at 1.06 trillion yuan last year, up 29.9% year-on-year.

Additionally, industrial robot exports soared by 86.4% year-on-year, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

As the world shifts toward a low-carbon economy, demand has surged for environmentally friendly and sustainable products.

The “new three items” have become highly sought-after in the global market, said Xu Yingming, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

Through continuous innovation, some Chinese companies have achieved a certain level of technological superiority and product excellence, allowing them to offer high-quality, competitive products that meet international standards and drive their robust export growth, Xu added.

The country’s efforts to expand trade relations with a broader range of partners, especially those involving the Belt and Road Initiative, also enhances the resilience of its foreign trade sector.

In 2023, the share of exports to emerging markets rose to 55.3%. Trade relations with countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative have also deepened, as evidenced by the first-quarter figures of this year, in which exports to those nations accounted for 46.7% of total exports, according to the ministry.

Noting the company’s focus on Europe and the United States as the mainstay of its NEV export market, Chen Lide, the regional manager of Asia’s Second Division at Zhongtong Bus, said that these markets accounted for more than half of the company’s export share last year.

However, there has been a recent surge in inquiries from potential clients in emerging markets, including Africa and South Asia. These untapped markets present significant opportunities for further exploration, Chen added.

Though these favourable conditions will help put China’s foreign trade in a better position to sustain sound momentum, various challenges such as geopolitical tensions and trade protectionism will remain tough nuts to crack. — China Daily/ANN

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