Import and Export Growth Fell Sharply, but the Trade Structure Continued to Improve

In 2014, the global economic recovery was weak. The major economies moved separately, and China's goods trade import and export growth fell further. Affected by weak domestic demand and the decline in prices of oil and other staple commodities, the decline in import growth was larger than the decline in export growth, and the surplus in commodity trade increased sharply. China's annual total exports in USD grew by only 6.1 %, a decrease of 1.7 percentage points from the previous year, and its total imports rose by only 0.4 %, a sharp decrease of 6.9 percentage points from the previous year (Fig. 2.8).[1] Commodity trade surplus expanded significantly to 382.46 billion USD, an increase of 122.71 billion USD over the previous year. The services trade deficit continued to maintain its previous expending trend, with the annual deficit widening to 198 billion USD.[2]

Fig. 2.8 Changes in import and export growth and trade surplus scale (Data source: CEIC)

China's commodity trade surplus and services trade deficit expanded in opposite directions, partly reflecting the changes in the country's current consumer demand structure, the imbalance in industrial structure, and the international competitive differences between different industries, and showed the direction of industrial structure adjustment. In 2014, China newly added 21.7 billion USD in foreign exchange reserves, taking its foreign exchange reserves balance to 3.84 trillion USD by the end of the year. The central parity exchange rate was 6.1190 yuan to the dollar, indicating a depreciation of 0.36 % in RMB compared with that at the end of the previous year.[3] The central parity exchange rate was 7.4556 yuan to the euro, an appreciation by 11.44 %.

In 2014, the actual use of foreign capital was 119.56 billion USD, an increase of

1.7 % from the previous year.[4] Among this, the manufacturing industry accounted for 33.4 %, a decrease of 5.34 % from the previous year and 15.52 % lower than that in 2007. The real estate industry accounted for 28.96 %, an increase of 4.47 % over the previous year and 8.5 % higher than that of 2007. The financial industry accounted for 3.5 %, an increase of 1.52 % over the previous year and 7.29 % lower than in 2007. The information transmission, computer services, and software industry accounted for 2.3 %, a decrease of 0.15 % over the previous year but 0.53 % higher than in 2007. After the international financial crisis, foreign investment also started to adjust the investment structure, turning from manufacturing to the tertiary industry and from labor-intensive to technology-intensive industry.

Fig. 2.9 Changes in proportion of general trade and processing trade import and export (Data source: CEIC)

In terms of trade structure, the proportion of general trade continued to improve, whereas that of processing trade continued to fall. In 2014, general trade exports grew by 10.7 %, accounting for 51.4 % of total exports, a 2.2 % increase over the previous year. Processing trade export grew by 2.7 %, accounting for 37.7 % of total exports, a 1.2 % decrease from the previous year. The general trade import growth fell from 8.6 to 0.2 %, accounting for 56.7 % of total imports. The growth of processing trade imports increased from 3.3 to 5.7 %, accounting for 26.8 % of total imports (Fig. 2.9).

In terms of regional structure, in 2014, China's growth of exports to Asia and the USA (in USD) improved sharply, by 10.4 % and 9.9 %, respectively, an increase of 3.8 % and 6.9 %, respectively, over the previous year. Following the slowdown of the EU recovery and euro depreciation, exports to the EU increased by 4.9 %, an increase of only 1 % over the previous year (Figs. 2.10 and 2.12). Compared with 2013, China's exports to Asia and the USA accounted for 52.8 and 16.1 %, an increase of 0.4 % and 0.1 %, respectively; its exports to the EU accounted for 15.2 %, a decrease of 0.7 %. On the import side, China's growth of imports from Asia and the USA fell by −3 and 3 %, a decrease of 8.5 % and

10.4 %, respectively; its growth of imports from the EU increased significantly to 15.4 %, an increase of 8 %. The proportion of China's imports from Asia decreased by 0.4 %, reaching 55.6 %; that from the USA increased by 0.5 %, reaching 9 %; and that from the EU rose to 13 %, an increase of 2 % (Figs. 2.11 and 2.13).

Fig. 2.10 Changes in China's export growth in main areas (Data source: CEIC)

Fig. 2.11 Changes in China's import growth in main areas (Data source: CEIC)

  • [1] According to Shen Danyang, the spokesman of the Commerce Department, “after stripping out the factor of arbitrage raising high base in 2013, real national import and export grew by 6.1 % year-on-year, the export growth was 8.7 %, import growth was 3.3 %.” cn/xwfbh/20150121.shtml
  • [2] Among them, in 2014, tourism, transportation, and patent fee exploitation increased to 113.6 billion, 57.9 billion, and 21.9 billion USD, that is, 4.7, 1.3, and 1.6 times higher than 2011, respectively
  • [3] Since March 2014, the USD central parity rate against the yuan has been continuously rising; the RMB depreciated by 1.8 % from a year earlier until early June. From June to August, the depreciation rate maintained the range of 0.8–1.8 %. In early September, the depreciation range of the RMB constantly narrowed, showing a depreciation of 0.35 % at the end of the year compared with that at the beginning of the year. Computing the RMB exchange rate based on the annual average value, the average exchange rate of the USD to yuan was 6.142 in 2014, and the RMB appreciated by about 0.86 %. The nominal and real effective exchange rate of RMB maintained the trend of appreciation; the range of appreciation was larger than the range in 2013
  • [4] In 2014, China became the world's largest recipient of foreign investment, surpassing the USA
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