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Trade slows but still impels economy

By Zhong Nan and Jing Shuiyu ( China Daily )

Updated: 2017-08-09

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China's foreign trade in July, though slower than expected, still achieved double-digit growth, as the country maintains steady demand for foreign commodities and continues to diversify its trading with various partners.

China's exports in yuan-denominated terms rose by 11.2 percent year-on-year last month, and imports by 14.7 percent, according to General Administration of Customs data on Tuesday. Previously, customs forecast July year-on-year export growth of 14.8 percent and import growth of 22.6 percent.

Trade figures showed a monthly surplus of 321.2 billion yuan ($47.8 billion), a 1.4 percent year-on-year increase.

In the first seven months, exports rose by 14.4 percent year-on-year and imports by 24 percent, lowering the trade surplus by 14.5 percent. Foreign trade from January to July totaled 15.46 trillion yuan, up by 18.5 percent year-on-year.

"Slower-than-expected July growth is understandable because last year had a high base figure. And the double-digit growth is high enough to support the growth stream," said Zhang Yongjun, a researcher at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.

Shen Jianguang, chief economist of Mizuho Securities Asia, Ltd, said unlike the past two years, when China's economic growth heavily depended on investment and domestic consumption, exports now have proved an important economic growth engine.

January to July trade with the EU climbed by 17.1 percent year-on-year to 2.33 trillion yuan. Trade with the United States rose by 20.6 percent, with ASEAN by 20.9 percent and with Japan by 16.9 percent.

Exports of machinery, electronics and labor-intensive products continued to expand in the first seven months, but the volume of steel exports dropped by 28.7 percent year-on-year to 47.95 million metric tons.

The Ministry of Commerce plans to assist manufacturers in identifying "specific regions" in key emerging export markets, particularly in BRICS economies and markets related to the Belt and Road Initiative, to further diversify and expand trade ties.

Zhang, the China Center for International Economic Exchanges researcher, urged developed economies to reduce the trade imbalance by expanding exports and creating jobs.

Contact the writers at zhongnan@chinadaily.com.cn