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China's July trade figures are encouraging and worrying

By Li Xiaotang ( Updated: 2014-08-11 09:46

China's trade surplus soared to an all-time monthly high of $47.3 billion in July as exports surged 14.5 percent year-on-year, a record high since April 2013 but imports fell 1.6 percent from a year ago, according to data released by the General Administration of Customs on August 8.

Overseas shipments rose 13.9 percent in July over the previous month and imports increased by 6.7 percent over June, the Customs administration said.

The variance in export and import figures in July can be attributable to:

China's July trade figures are encouraging and worrying
China's July trade figures are encouraging and worrying
First, the global economic recovery, especially strong demand expansion from the United States, helped boost China's July export growth to a double-digit rate.

Second, trade surplus continued to grow rapidly. It is possible that overseas capital took advantage of trade channels to enter China amid renewed expectations for the Chinese yuan to appreciate.

Third, China's economic restructuring and industrial transformation and upgrading remain "in progress" and domestic demands are still weak, resulting in decreased imports.

Fourth, the government is cracking down on fraud trade financing, which will have continuous implications on the growth of import figures.

Fifth, the fall in commodity prices was also one of the main factors to blame for the drop of July import figures. However, the longer commodity prices remain at low levels the better for China – without having to cut the quantity of imports, the costs for buying commodities can be significantly reduced.

With the pickup of major economies of Europe and America, as well as China's ongoing "mini-stimulus" policy, the country's imports and exports are likely to maintain a steady growth in the second half of 2014, and the government will mainly keep the policies of the first half. If the internal downward pressure for the economy is not eased in the upcoming months, the central bank may continue the targeted relaxation policy it has adopted to make up for the shortage of base money.

The author is a certified financial planner and independent commentator. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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