x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

China exports rose in December after 12 months of robust global trade

A feared trade war between China and the US has not materialised yet 

A worker watches as cargo trucks move through a shipping port in Qingdao in eastern China's Shandong province. China reports its trade growth cooled in December 2017 in a sign of weaker global and domestic demand, but total exports for 2017 rose 7.9 per cent over 2016 while imports were up 15.9 per cent. Photo: Chinatopix via AP
A worker watches as cargo trucks move through a shipping port in Qingdao in eastern China's Shandong province. China reports its trade growth cooled in December 2017 in a sign of weaker global and domestic demand, but total exports for 2017 rose 7.9 per cent over 2016 while imports were up 15.9 per cent. Photo: Chinatopix via AP

China’s exports rose in December, capping a year of stronger trade growth buoyed by a robust global economy.

The big picture

Demand for Chinese products is holding up as growth in major trade partners remains intact, and a feared trade war between China and the US has yet to materialise. An imports boom is being driven by the economy’s unexpectedly robust expansion in 2017, with the nation’s gross domestic product expanding by about 6.9 per cent last year, the official Xinhua News Agency cited Premier Li Keqiang as saying this week.

Economist takeaways

"The overall global environment will continue to be very supportive in terms of global demand for a second consecutive year, and that’s going to support China’s exports sector," Grace Ng, a China economist at JPMorgan in Hong Kong, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. While growth will be stable, there will be "ongoing efforts at supply-side reform and overcapacity reduction as well as some tightening measures on environmental issues. That will continue to restrain some parts of the industrial sector".

"Export growth will likely drop as the rapid appreciation in the yuan last year will start to hurt outbound shipments after a lag, and amid trade frictions between China and the US," said Zhao Yang, chief China economist at Nomura Holdings in Hong Kong. "Import growth will slow too as China’s economic expansion slows amid weaker investment in manufacturing and property."

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"China’s exports may continue to benefit from global recovery this year," said Ding Shuang, chief economist for Greater China and North Asia at Standard Chartered in Hong Kong. "A major uncertainty is potential China-US trade frictions."

"Import growth outpaced that of exports significantly for the whole year of 2017, indicating that China’s growth profile has been experiencing a transition as domestic demand has been picking up," said Zhou Hao, a senior emerging markets economist at Commerzbank in Singapore. "China is on its way to rebalancing its growth model and it makes sense to accelerate the deleveraging process as growth looks fine over the foreseeable future."