China is world export leader

Editorial, Normal

BEIJING: China’s exports surged 17.7% last month to snap a 13-month falling streak, its government said Sunday, cementing the Asian power’s new status as the world’s biggest exporter.
Exports hit $US130.7 billion during the month as global trade perked up, bringing China’s full-year export figure to $1.20 trillion, according to figures from the General Administration of Customs.
Data out last week showed that China overtook Europe’s biggest economy (Germany) in November to become the world’s top exporting nation.
The December data broke a long string stretching back to late 2008 in which monthly Chinese exports had contracted as foreign markets dried up in the global economic downturn.
State-run China Central Television quoted a top customs official as saying the figures indicated the worst was over for China’s vital export sector.
“This is an extremely important turning point. Our nation’s foreign trade had been falling for 13 consecutive months but is now growing,” head of the customs bureau’s statistical analysis department, Huang Guohua said.
“Our nation’s exporters have emerged from their downslide.”
Overall foreign trade — both exports and imports — fell 13.9% last year to $US2.21 trillion, the data showed, as monthly exports fell sharply on a year-on-year basis in each of the first 10 months of the year.
But that changed in November, when exports slipped just 1.2%, the slowest decline of the year.
Imports for last month set a new monthly record of $US112 billion, a rise of 55% year-on-year, while full-year imports came in at $US1.005 trillion.
The December import record was fueled in part by a 41% increase in iron ore imports, the customs administration said, as China devoured foreign resources to fuel its economic boom.
The nation’s politically sensitive trade surplus hit $US18.4 billion for the month of December, while the full-year surplus posted a rare fall to $US196 billion, the customs bureau said.
Last year’s trade surplus was down 34.2% from 2008, it said.
With China’s trade data for all of last year now out, the nation’s crowning as the 2009 export champion is expected to be confirmed when Germany releases full-year trade figures on Feb 9.
From January to November, Chinese exports were worth $US1.07 trillion.
Data from the German national statistics office last Friday showed that exports from the European heavyweight came to $US1.05 trillion in the 11 months.
Experts have said a resurgence in Chinese trade will likely bring renewed pressure on China to let its yuan currency appreciate.
The value of the yuan, which has effectively been pegged to the US dollar since mid-2008, has been a bone of contention between Beijing and its Western trading partners, who say it keeps the currency low to boost exports.
While China has acknowledged the need to boost domestic consumption and reduce its reliance on exports and investment to drive the economy, it has so far refused to budge on its currency policy.
Premier Wen Jiabao said last month in an interview with state media that China would not yield to foreign pressure on the yuan. – AFP