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China Trade October 2023

China: Merchandise exports decline in October

Merchandise exports decreased 6.4% on an annual basis in October (September: -6.2% year-on-year), roughly twice the fall that the market was expecting and contrasting export growth in other major Asian economies such as Korea and Vietnam. Exports to the U.S., ASEAN, the EU and Japan all fell in October. Meanwhile, merchandise imports expanded 3.0% in annual terms in October (September: -6.3% yoy), buoyed by higher commodity imports. This marked the strongest reading since February 2023 and confounded market expectations of a contraction.

As a result, the merchandise trade balance deteriorated from the previous month, recording a USD 56.5 billion surplus in October (September 2023: USD 77.8 billion surplus; October 2022: USD 82.2 billion surplus). Lastly, the trend deteriorated, with the 12-month trailing merchandise trade balance recording a USD 822.9 billion surplus in October, compared to the USD 848.6 billion surplus in September.

Our Consensus is for exports to eke out a minor expansion in 2024 as a whole, buoyed by a likely recovery in global electronics demand. However, continued trade and technology frictions with the West and tight global financial conditions will still weigh on exports.

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