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China: Exports contract at fastest pace in over one year in March

April 13, 2015

In March, exports fell 15.0% over the same month last year, which largely contrasted the 48.3% increase tallied in February. The astonishing export growth recorded in February mostly reflected the different timing of the Lunar New year. March’s drop contrasted the 9.0% increase that market analysts had expected and represented the largest decline since February 2014. Imports fell 12.7% annually in March, which was above the 20.5% decline tallied in February. The print, nonetheless, exceeded the 10.0% drop that market analysts had expected.

As a result of the sharp drop in exports, the trade surplus narrowed to USD 3.1 billion in March (February: USD 60.6 billion) from USD 8.0 billion in the same month last year. The print largely undershot the USD 45.0 billion surplus that market analysts had expected and represented the smallest surplus in 13 months. The 12-month moving sum of the trade surplus fell from USD 492 billion in February to USD 487 billion in March.

The government expects total merchandise trade to expand 6.0% this year. FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast panelists project that merchandise exports will grow 6.7% in 2015, while imports will expand 5.2%, thus driving the trade balance to record a surplus of USD 425 billion. For 2016, the panel expects exports to increase 5.6% and imports to rise 6.1%, while the trade surplus will widen to USD 451 billion.


Author: Ricard Torné, Lead Economist

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China Trade Chart


China Trade12m March 2015

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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