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ECONOMY: Trade Environment Looks Strong
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Trade Environment Looks Strong

By Anthony Lawry

BT 201706 ECONOMY 031尽管过去几个月中国的整体经济状况健康良好,但与五月份预期相比,出口增长速度明显放缓,出口量下降了一半以上,而4月份的进口总额增长了11.9%,较3月份的上涨20.3%。四月份的数据显示,中国的贸易顺差为385.5亿美元,而预测为355亿美元,明显高于3月份的239.3亿美元。这些数字也显示出中国这个世界第二大经济体实现经济多样化、转变模式是多么困难。




Although China's overall economic health has been sound for the past few months, economic data for the month of April witnessed trade growth slow down as commodities and electronics demand declined. Even though import growth was expected to slow, it slowed significantly more quickly than anticipated for May while exports slowed by more than half. April imports rose 11.9% which fell from March's 20.3% rise according to official data. Analysts were expecting an 18% growth rate.

BT 201706 ECONOMY 01Exports also slowed. Official data in April showed that exports only rose 8% from a year prior which was below 16.4% from the previous month and down from expectations of 10.4% growth. Although the first quarter was quite good for China's economy, analysts are suggesting that it may be as good as this year gets for China as the country is looking to tamper down on speculative investments and the property market which is widely seen to be in the midst of a bubble.

The data which April's numbers showed saw that China's trade surplus stood at $38.05 billion compared to forecasts of $35.5 billion and significantly higher than March's $23.93 billion. Furthermore, these numbers are preliminary and in all likelihood will be revised on May 23rd. Nonetheless, if anything these numbers show just how difficult it is to wean the world's second largest economy off of its trading export model of economic growth to one of more domestic consumption, a goal of economic diversification that has been aimed for in recent years.

hl ECORegardless of this difficulty, import numbers at the year-to-date level are still up by 20.8% as opposed to 8.1% growth for exports which has been seen over the last three to four months. Nonetheless, analysts are still forecasting that imports could also slow as the year progresses forward. As for electronics and machinery products, both saw an increase of 2% as compared to the same time last year in April slowing down by 12.3% as compared to March's data.

In April, China's surplus with the United States widened which implies that increasing pressure from the United States for actions or issues regarding trade will probably not go away in the near future. This is despite a recent trade deal penned between the two countries opening up several markets such as China's newly allowed mandate for Chinese banks to operate in the United States with more freedom and less regulation. The trade surplus with the United States stood at $21.34 billion which was up from $17.74 in March and also higher from the same period a year before. Because of the increase in the trade gap between the world's two largest economies, exports to the United States rose by 11.7% in April as compared to last year, but imports also rose from the US at around 1.5%. The commerce ministry reported that 2017 would also be a better year for trade than 2016 and 2015.

BT 201706 ECONOMY 02
Despite the concerns of populism around the world which shocked global markets last year when the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union and when the United States presidential election ushered in populist candidate Donald Trump, there are still a number of positive signs for China's macroeconomic trade environment. In spite of the 2016 populist wave, 2017 has not as of yet seen such a shock to global markets as the year prior perhaps aside from Trump's occasional tweeting which can agitate US markets depending on the topic. This is merely one such reason why a positive 2017 global trade and Chinese trade forecast is not necessarily.

Global shipping companies have also recovered from a harsh 2016 signaling higher trade volumes and increased global growth. This should be read as especially a positive sign for China as economists and analysts are assuming this, along with other signs, to be a positive moment for major export countries of which China still counts itself as a member. Another positive moment was when the financial heads of Japan, China and South Korea met early in May to pen an agreement on avoiding protectionism, making a stronger commitment than what other major international groups such as the G20 have come to. Some assert that this is largely a reaction to protectionist policies stemming from President Trump despite the recent agreement between the US and China to open markets.

At the end of the day, it appears as though campaign rhetoric of populists, like other harder stances they have taken on other issues, is merely a loud dog barking. Whether or not that dog will bite is yet to be seen, but as of now the problems associated with these policies have been tamed. In conclusion, the trade environment is looking strong, but China still needs to double its efforts in order to capitalize on the moment.

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