China set to remain world’s largest trading nation in goods in 2023

China set to remain world’s largest trading nation in goods in 2023

While year-on-year foreign trade growth rate slows, the overall stable development of China's foreign trade sector is guaranteed and the country is expected to remain the world's largest trading nation in goods in 2023, Lü Daliang, a spokesperson with the General Administration of Customs (GAC), said on Thursday, the Global Times reports.

Lü said the authorities have noticed some concerns over China's foreign trade growth rate, but the authorities believe the overall development of the sector is stable, with a second-quarter reading and data in May and June all showing quarter-on-quarter or month-on-month growth.

China's import and export kept growing in the first half of the year, with the total volume hitting 20.1 trillion yuan ($2.8 trillion), marking a milestone breakthrough in the country's history, according to GAC data.

"The result is hard-won, as it's been achieved amid a complex and grave external environment and slowing global trade and investment, as well as a fall in consumption of anti-epidemic products and in-house economy products," Lü said.

Over the period, the country's total import and export volume increased by over 400 billion yuan, which is equivalent to the country's export of a total of over 3 million cars in 2022, according to Lü.

He said the quantity of the country's imports and exports is on the rise, which means that the basis of the country's foreign trade is more solid. "The import and export quantity both fell in the first quarter, but they both increased in the second quarter, up 5.9 percent and 2 percent, respectively," the official said.

The WTO forecasts that the global cargo trade growth rate will be 1.7 percent in 2023, slower than the average of 2.6 percent over the past 12 years. Slower trade is a global challenge faced by all economies, Lü said. "Compared with the data released by neighboring countries, China's foreign trade has shown relatively strong resilience and its competitive advantage has strengthened," he said, adding that China's exports accounted for a slightly larger global market share in the first four months.

China's foreign trade encounters pressure, ups and downs and challenges. However, the positive long-term fundamentals of the Chinese economy remain unchanged and the country's foreign trade sector is resilient and has flexible wiggle room thanks to a sound industrial system and comprehensive production capacity, Lü said.

In addition to continuous opening-up and international trade cooperation, China has rolled out a series of policies to stabilize foreign trade. The joint effect continues to emerge, serving as a solid support to the improvement of the country's foreign trade structure, he said, adding, "We have confidence in continuing to consolidate market shares and in maintaining the top spot in the global cargo trade."

As 2023 marks the 10th anniversary for China launching the pilot free trade zones (FTZs), the current 21 established ones have played an indispensable role in exploring new paths for the nation's comprehensively deepening reform and promoting the high-quality opening-up.

Located in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province, Nansha is a major base for the Guangdong Pilot Free Trade Zone. Amid the stringent unilateral restrictions imposed by the US and its allies on China for obtaining chip manufacturing equipment and raw materials, Nansha has become a significant hub for empowering China's innovation in the semiconductor industry. 

Nansha is just a snapshot of how China's pilot free trade zones (FTZs) have been contributing to boost the nation's innovation, covering sectors from chips to the internet. 

When visiting a local semiconductor enterprise, AccoPower, which produces silicon carbide (SiC) power devices, on July 2, the Global Times learned that the company's main products, including automotive-grade power modules and industrial-grade power modules, are widely used in multiple sectors including photovoltaic, wind energy, and energy storage and have also been exported to the Europe and adapted by multiple NEV models such as the Smart from Mercedes Benz. 

In 2021, AccoPower established a subsidiary dedicated to 6-inch and 8-inch SiC chip production , which will offer core chips to the new-energy field while its series of products forming a whole industrial chain and ecology for the third-generation semiconductor industry, according to the company. 

"Chinese enterprises have a relatively small gap in the third-generation semiconductor field, and we hope to catch up and even to reach the international leading level," Liu Cheng, an official from Nansha district's industry and information technology bureau in South China's Guangdong Province, told the Global Times.  

Nansha has the most important industrial base for new-energy vehicles (NEVs) in Guangdong, which provides a good foundation for deepening the integration of NEVs with the third-generation semiconductor industry, according to Liu. 

Liu added that Nansha is currently stepping up policy support for the third-generation semiconductors, while vigorously developing research and development for advanced semiconductor industry and clusters targeting the core components of NEVs and artificial intelligence (AI). 

Nansha has already issued nine measures to stimulate the local development of semiconductor and integrated circuits. At present, Guangzhou has built an industrial park covering an area of about 1.97 square kilometers targeting the integrated circuit sector, basically covering the manufacturing from the upstream to the downstream application end while completing the initial formation of the ecology.  

In addition to Nansha, the advancements of the smart logistics in the Xiamen area and the Internet of Things (IoT) industry in the Fuzhou area of the Fujian Pilot FTZ in East China are also representative examples, further benefiting the operation of local businesses. 

The Xiamen International Trade Single Window, a major public service platform jointly launched by 11 government departments, has offered enterprises with a convenient one-stop window to handle multiple customs and port-related service at once. 

The construction of the trade single window has adapted the various emerging technologies including the cloud-computing, AI, big data along with other technological support, Lin Hua, vice deputy manager of the operating unit for the trade single window, told the Global Times. 

The customs clearance process of import and export goods at the Xiamen port has been greatly optimized thanks to the technological boost. The overall customs clearance time for imports was compressed by 78.16 percent in 2022 whereas the time for exports was shortened by 95.99 percent compared to 2017.

The single trade window has also set multiple new records nationwide as a pioneer model. For instance, the "single trade window and financial service" model enabled the corresponding blockchain application scenario for the first time in China.

Meanwhile, the Fuzhou area has been ramping up efforts in promoting the digital economy by adapting the IoT. 

When visiting the Fuzhou IoT Open Lab on Thursday, the Global Times found various undergoing experiments such as a wireless performance test, as the lab passes qualification tests for new products while set up new industrial standards. 

Currently, more than 200 million yuan has been invested in lab equipment, the person in charge of the lab told the Global Times, adding that the lab completed 40 standards related to IoT while promoting the formulation and establishment of 43 standards. In the 5G sector, the first 5G industrial service platform in China jointly built by the lab and Huawei was officially launch. 

The lab will better utilize the resources for enterprises especially startups to meet up with their technology demand, the person in charge of the Fuzhou zone of Fujian Pilot FTA, told the Global Times, noting that some startups will be able to enjoy policy benefits and subsidies via the lab's platform. 

After many years of cultivation, the IoT industry in the Fuzhou area has made remarkable achievements. For instance, the sales of POS machines from the Newland company ranked the second in the world and the first in the Asia-Pacific. The company has developed a world-class live detection algorithm and is the only payment hardware provider in China with self-developed face recognition algorithms.

In the first quarter of 2023, the import and export value of the 21 FTAs reached 1.8 trillion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 6.6 percent, official data showed. 

China's import and export volume of goods reached 20.1 trillion yuan ($2.8 trillion) in the first half of the year, up 2.1 percent year on year. This is within expectations, as the country's foreign trade sector witnessed improvement in quality amid continuous economic recovery, official data showed on Thursday.

According to data released by the General Administration of Customs (GAC), the country's exports increased by 3.7 percent year-on-year hitting 11.46 trillion yuan between January and June, while imports slightly declined 0.1 percent year-on-year to reach 8.64 trillion yuan.

Lü Daliang, a GAC spokesperson said the country's foreign trade volume showed growth while maintaining stability, as the total imports and export volume in the second quarter increased 7 percent quarter-on-quarter to reach 10.34 trillion yuan. The readings in May and June both saw a month-on-month growth of 1.2 percent.

As the structure of the country's foreign trade sector continues to see improvement, the import and export volume of private companies in China continue to grow. In the first six months, private enterprises imported and exported a total of 10.59 trillion yuan worth of goods, up 8.9 percent year-on-year. That accounted for 52.7 percent of the country's total, up 3.3 percentage points, according to the GAC.

Over the same period, the ASEAN remains China's largest trade partner, with bilateral trade up 5.4 percent year-on-year to reach 3.08 trillion yuan. Meanwhile, China's foreign trade with the EU increased by 1.9 percent year-on-year, hitting 2.75 trillion yuan, whereas that trade with the US fell 8.4 percent year-on-year to 2.25 trillion yuan, Lü said.

It's worth noting that China's trade with countries and regions along the Belt and Road Initiative jumped 9.8 percent year-on-year in the first half, 7.7 percentage points higher than the country's total foreign trade growth rate, data showed.

Driven by "three new major ones," namely solar batteries, lithium-ion batteries and electric vehicles, the country's export of machinery products rose 6.3 percent year-on-year to reach 6.66 trillion yuan in the first half, accounting for 58.2 percent of the country's total export, according to the GAC.

The country's imports of bulk commodities including energy, minerals and grain increased by 17.1 percent year-on-year over the period.

China's foreign trade faces pressure amid challenges such as rising geopolitical tensions and weak external demand in the second half, but the positive long-term foreign trade prospect will not change and we have confidence and the conditions to achieve high-quality foreign trade development, Lü said.

China's trade in goods with countries along the Belt and Road jumped 9.8 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2023, 7.7 percentage points higher than the country's overall trade growth during the same period, government data showed Thursday.

The total value of trade in goods with countries along the Belt and Road accounted for 34.3 percent of the country's total import and export value of 20.1 trillion yuan ($2.8 trillion) registered in the first half of the year, according to data released by the General Administration of Customs at a press conference of the State Council Information Office.

The data also revealed that the value of China's trade in goods with other members of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership rose 1.5 percent year-on-year in the same period.

Reported on July 10-13 2023 by the Global Times, Xinhua (China).