China Trade Balance May 2019


China: Exports rebound slightly in May

June 10, 2019

In May, exports rose 1.1% over the same month last year, which contrasted the 2.7% decline in April. The print also contrasted the 3.9% decrease that market analysts had expected.

Despite May’s increase, Betty Wang, senior China economist at ANZ, warns that:

“The better-than-expected exports in May, which could have been helped by a depreciation in the CNY and front-loading of shipments amid fears of higher US tariffs, do not change our overall cautious view on China’s export look for 2019.”

Imports fell 8.5% in annual terms in May, contrasting the 4.0% increase in April. The reading undershot the 3.5% decline that market analysts had forecast.

About the sharp decline in imports, Betty Wang, senior China economist at ANZ, points out that:

“The weakness in May imports was due to a decline in global oil prices, softness in major commodity imports as well as mechanical and electrical imports.”

As a result of the sharp decrease in imports, the trade surplus rose from USD 23.4 billion in May 2018 to USD 41.7 billion in May 2019 (April: USD 13.8 billion surplus). The 12-month moving sum of the trade surplus increased from USD 369 billion in April to USD 387 billion in May.

China Trade Balance Forecast

Our panelists forecast that exports will expand 1.0% in 2019 and imports will rise 0.7%, bringing the trade surplus to USD 361 billion. In 2020, FocusEconomics panelists expect exports will expand 4.3%, while imports will rise 5.8%, bringing down the trade surplus to USD 343 billion.


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China Trade Balance Chart

China Trade12m May 2019

Note: 12-month sum of trade balance in USD billion and annual variation of the 12-month sum of exports and imports in %.
Source: General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China and FocusEconomics calculations.

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