Now they have been released, the official November trade figures show the expected decline in exports as the global slowdown bites deeper into the economy.
At $115 billion, November’s exports were down 2.2% on the same month a year earlier, the General Administration of Customs says. Seasonally adjusted it is the first fall in export values since June 2001, and a bigger decline than some economists were expecting, according to the FT.
In October, exports were worth $128 billion, up 19.2% year-on-year. As rule of thumb every 1% fall in economic growth in the U.S., China’s main export market, translates into a 10% fall in China’s exports.
Imports also contracted last month, down 17.9% from a year earlier at $74.8 billion, reflecting the collapse in commodity prices over the past year as well as the more recent slowing demand for raw materials and semimanufactures, so the monthly trade surplus widened to a record S40.1 billion.
That will help expand the war chest for stimulating domestic demand. There is little more Beijing can do to help exporters absent a recovery in global demand; it has gone as far as is practical with yuan devaluation and export tax credits. The sharp fall in imports suggests slackness in the supply chain that will be reflected in weak export numbers for some months to come.