China's foreign trade expected to grow 25% in 2021

China's exports and imports gained pace in August, despite soaring international freight rates and port congestion caused by the flare-up of the delta variant of coronavirus in the world. An economist forecast that China's foreign trade will grow by 25% for the whole year. According to the General Administration of Customs (GAC), China's foreign trade reached USD530.3 billion in August, up 28.8% year-on-year and up 4.2% month-on-month. Exports totaled USD294.3 billion in August, up 25.6% year-on-year, beating market expectations of 17.3%. Imports totaled USD236 billion, up 33.1% year-on-year, also above the forecast of 26.9%. The surge in imports and exports reflected China's irreplaceable role in global supply chains, which has been cemented by the country's swift move in putting the latest delta variant outbreak firmly under control, Cao Heping, Professor of Economics at Peking University in Beijing, told the Global Times.

China's exports to major trade partners sustained growth in the first eight months, with ASEAN remaining the largest trade partner, followed by the EU and the U.S. Despite political tensions between China and the U.S., bilateral trade grew 36.6% year-on-year to reach USD470.32 billion. Exports and imports of Chinese private companies posted faster growth from January to August, with their share seeing a continuous rise. These companies' foreign trade reached CNY11.92 trillion, accounting for 48.1% of the country's total, up 2.3 percentage points year-on-year. Barring extreme conditions, China's merchandise trade is expected to show double-digit growth year-on-year, and considerably exceed the pre-pandemic 2019 level, to hit USD5.1 trillion this year, Wan Zhongxin, Director of the Research Center of the General Administration of Customs, said during the China International Fair for Trade in Services. Based on this calculation, China's merchandise trade is expected to account for 15% of the global total, Wang said. Cao projected that the country's overall foreign trade will expand 25% this year, driving annual GDP growth to above 9%. China's trade surplus surged by 17.8% from a year ago to CNY2.34 trillion. The export value of mechanical and electrical products jumped 23.8% year-on-year to CNY7.98 trillion in the first eight months of this year, accounting for 58.8% of the nation’s total export value, according to the GAC.

Meanwhile, China’s exports of automatic data processing equipment and its components surged by 12.7% year-on-year, and exports of automobiles grew by 111.1%. “The global economic recovery may not be as fast as many people expect,” said Liang Ming, Director of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation’s Institute of International Trade. “China’s exports have been supported so far this year by increasing global demand in high-tech sectors, such as information technology, high-end equipment and new energy,” Liang said, adding that the resumption of production in other countries will drive up demand for higher value-added goods where China has comparative advantages, such as intermediate products. Gao Lingyun, Director of the International Investment Division of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of World Economics and Politics, said upcoming festivals and celebrations in Western countries, such as Christmas, will shore up demand for China’s exports. This overview is based on reports by the Global Times and China Daily.