China posts better than expected export growth in December –

China posts better-than-expected export growth in December –

Containers stand at Yangshan Port in Shanghai, China, August 6, 2019.

Aly song | Portal

BEIJING – China's exports rose more than expected in December but failed to offset the overall decline for 2023, customs data showed on Friday.

Exports rose 2.3% year-on-year in U.S. dollars last month, more than the 1.7% rise forecast in a Portal poll.

In 2023, exports fell 4.6% while imports fell 5.5%, according to customs data.

Imports rose 0.2% in December from a year earlier in U.S. dollars. That's slightly less than the 0.3% increase expected by analysts polled by Portal.

Demand for Chinese goods has fallen due to slower global growth, and the country's trade with its major partners fell in 2023.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations was China's largest regional trading partner in 2023, followed by the European Union.

Among countries, the United States remained China's largest trading partner.

Russia has been a rare bright spot: China's exports to the country rose nearly 47% in 2023 and imports rose nearly 13%.

“Chinese manufacturers expect production to increase throughout 2024 as stronger global demand, higher customer spending and investment in new products are forecast,” Caixin said in a December release of its manufacturing purchasing managers' index.

The index showed a slight improvement compared to November. “However, the level of optimism declined from November onwards and remained below the series average.”

The report also noted a decline in the employment sub-index. “Companies often mentioned that they chose not to replace voluntarily departing employees or reduce headcount because demand was more subdued than expected,” the Caixin analysis said.

“Our base case assumes exports will rise by 2% in 2024, after falling by 5%. [in 2023]. “If exports slow more than expected, policymakers would be more proactive in terms of domestic policy support,” Larry Hu, chief China economist at Macquarie, said in a Jan. 5 report.

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Cars were a bright spot in China's recent trade data. The country is expected to overtake Japan as the world's largest car exporter in 2023.

Rapid growth in the electric car market as well as demand from Russia have helped boost China's auto exports, said Sarah Tan, an economist at Moody's Analytics.

“After Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, many automakers had left the country, only to have this gap filled by Chinese manufacturers,” she said in an email. “In the first eleven months of 2023, car deliveries to Russia increased approximately sixfold in value terms compared to 2022.”