Quality, not scale, highlight of trade data: China Daily editorial
China's trade in goods hit 31.54 trillion yuan ($4.59 trillion) last year, up 3.4 percent year-on-year, of which 2.92 trillion yuan was surplus, expanding 25.4 percent, the General Administration of Customs announced on Tuesday.
That will probably help China retain its status as the world's largest trader in goods, in light of data till October provided by the World Trade Organization.
Given the country is still endeavoring to optimize its growth model and economic structure, and the worsening trade frictions with the US last year, this is a remarkable, hard-earned result, both in terms of its size and the rate of expansion — it was the fastest growth rate among all the major trading economies — highlighting once again the resilience of the Chinese economy.
It is noteworthy that the increase in trade last year was marked by steady quarterly growth — from 7.03 trillion yuan in the first quarter to 7.68 trillion yuan in the second, 8.26 trillion yuan in the third and 8.59 trillion yuan in the fourth — which means the policies tailor-made to stabilize trade growth have realized their objectives.
The other milestone change is that private enterprises in China have for the first time in history surpassed foreign-funded ventures as the largest contributor to the country's foreign trade last year.
Statistics shows the export-import generated by private enterprises accounted for 42.7 percent of the total, up 11.4 percent year-on-year, compared with the 39.9 percent involving foreign-funded companies. Which means a series of efforts aimed at boosting the growth of the private sector by improving the business environment and lowering the tax and fee burden have paid off.
Meanwhile, the country's achievements in upgrading its industry are reflected in mechanical and electrical products accounting for 58.4 percent of the total exports, with growth registered at 4.4 percent year-on-year.
Except for its trade with the United States, which dipped by 10.7 percent for obvious reasons, its trade with all major partners has grown to various degrees — up 8 percent for its largest trade partner, the European Union, 14.1 percent for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which overtook the US to become China's second-largest trade partner last year — and its trade growth with the countries and regions along the Belt and Road routes, and African and Latin American countries have picked up by 10.8 percent, 6.8 percent and 8 percent respectively, demonstrating the great trade potential of the emerging market economies and developing countries.
With its huge market size and domestic demand, its complete industrial system and diversified trade structure, as well as its many trade partners, China has the necessary ballast to stay true to its charted course this year.