China Trade Balance


China posts first trade deficit in over one year

In March, exports grew 10.0% over the same month last year, that was less than half the 23.6% increase seen in the January-February period - which are analysed together to smooth distortions related to the Lunar New Year holidays. Nonetheless, the print was broadly in line with market expectations that had shipments increasing 10.5%. As a result of the monthly reading, in the 12 months up to March exports grew 10.4% over the corresponding period last year (February: +10.3% year-on-year).

Simultaneously, imports expanded 14.1% in March, which is well above the combined 5.0% rise seen in the January-February period. In addition, the print nearly tripled the 5.2% increase anticipated by the market. As a result, imports expanded 4.7% in the 12 months up to March (February: +3.9% yoy).

The trade balance recorded its first trade deficit since February 2012, posting a USD 884 million shortfall. The reading contrasts both the USD 5.2 billion surplus witnessed in the same month last year and market expectations of a USD 15.4 billion surplus. Accordingly, the 12-month moving sum of the trade balance diminished from USD 280 billion in February to USD 274 billion in March.

FocusEconomics panellists project merchandise exports will grow 9.6% in 2013 to USD 2.2 trillion, while the trade surplus will narrow to USD 237 billion from USD 231 billion in 2012. For 2014, the panel expects export to increase 11.6%, while the trade surplus will shrink further to USD 231 billion.

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China Trade Balance Chart

China Trade12m March 2013

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