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China: Exports and trade surplus end 2014 on strong footing

January 13, 2015

In December, exports increased 9.7% over the same month the previous year, which was an improvement over the 4.7% expansion tallied in November. The print overshot the 6.0% increase that market analysts had expected. In 2014, exports expanded 6.1%, which was down from the 7.8% increase observed in 2013 and represented the weakest gain in five years.

Imports dropped 2.4% annually in December, which was up from the 6.7% decline tallied in November. The print came in above the 6.2% contraction that market analysts had expected. In the full year 2014, imports recorded a mild 0.4% increase, which was well below the 7.3% expansion recorded in 2013 and marked the softest rise since 2010.

As a result of the underperformance in imports and the relatively strong growth in exports, the trade surplus widened to USD 49.6 billion in December (November 2014: USD 54.5 billion) from the USD 25.1 billion recorded in the same month of the previous year. That said, the print matched market expectations. In the full year 2014, the trade balance incurred a surplus of USD 383 billion (2013: USD 258 billion), which marked the largest surplus on record.

FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast panelists project that merchandise exports will grow 7.5% in 2015, while imports will expand 6.2%, thus driving the trade balance to record a surplus of USD 371 billion. For 2016, the panel expects exports to increase 5.6% and imports to rise 6.2%, while the trade surplus will widen to USD 379 billion.


Author: Ricard Torné, Lead Economist

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China Trade Chart


China Trade12m December 2014

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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