China’s exports jumped 44.5 percent year-on-year to $171.62 billion in February, the fastest pace in three years, official data showed on March 8.
The European Union, the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations were China’s top three trading partners in the first two months of the year, with China’s shipments to the EU rising 17.2 percent year-on-year and those to the US by 15.8 percent, according to data released by the General Administration of Customs.
“Thanks to China’s comparatively high-productivity, the country’s good-quality and reasonably-priced products enjoyed a sharp competitive edge and enabled domestic manufacturers to expand their share in the overseas markets,” said Huang Maoxing, an economics professor at the Fujian Normal University.
Officials and experts, however, warned that the country’s foreign trade flow will be challenged by growing trade protectionism.
As the Trump administration is likely to announce import tariffs on China’s steel and aluminum products within this week, China needs to maintain its vigil against trade protectionism measures, said Sun Yibiao, a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and former vice-minister of the General Administration of Customs.
“At present, China’s trade volume is large but not strong enough, with an unbalanced structure,” he said. “There is still a long way to go for China to grow into a technology-focused trade powerhouse.”
To boost competitiveness of foreign trade, Sun said China should strengthen the trade and economic cooperation with economies participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, continue to negotiate investment protection agreements, simplify customs clearance procedures, and conduct research on cross-border e-commerce.
Zeng Qinghong, an NPC deputy and chairman of Guangzhou Automobile Group Co, said his company may delay or shelve the plan to export one of its pillar products — ‘Trumpchi’ series passenger vehicles — to the US market next year.
“Local legislators’ attitude on tariffs, transportation, insurance and port costs can all impact our business. We will not enter the market if we cannot make profit,” said Zeng.
Trade with economies participating in the Belt and Road Initiative exceeded 1.26 trillion yuan ($198.84 billion) in the first two months, up 21.9 percent year-on-year, 5.2 percentage points higher than the general trade growth.