‘Gloomy’ trade prospects seen

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By YANG ZIMAN in Bei­jing, QIU CHUANLIN in Guangzhou and YU RAN in Shang­hai

China’s for­eign trade ran into dif­fi­cul­ties last year, with im­ports and ex­ports both ex­pe­ri­enc­ing year-on-year de­clines.

De­spite en­cour­ag­ing fig­ures last month, the trade pic­ture for this year re­mains gloomy, ac­cord­ing to Cus­toms data re­leased on Wed­nes­day.

“The dou­ble de­crease in im­ports and ex­ports is due to eco­nomic slow­down and weak de­mand through­out the world,” said Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Cus­toms spokesman Huang Song­ping.

Chi­nese ex­porters faced chal­lenges last year, Huang said, with 2015 ex­ports to­tal­ing 14.14 tril­lion yuan ($2.28 tril­lion), down 1.8 per­cent from 2014 and the first ex­port de­cline since 2010.

Im­ports fell by 13.2 per­cent to 10.45 tril­lion yuan last year, and the com­bined vol­ume of im­ports and ex­ports stood at 24.59 tril­lion yuan, a 7 per­cent year-on-year de­cline.

Huang fore­cast that China’s for­eign trade this year will re­main at the same level as last year, de­spite en­cour­ag­ing num­bers in De­cem­ber, when ex­ports in­creased 2.3 per­cent to 1.43 tril­lion yuan.

Weak global de­mand and the drop­ping prices of bulk com­modi­ties have con­trib­uted to the de­crease in trade.

Huang added that his depart­ment will pay close at­ten­tion to cur­rency fluc­tu­a­tions.

The trade pic­ture may re­main gloomy this year, as China is still go­ing through eco­nomic re­struc­tur­ing and a man­u­fac­tur­ing upgrade.

More­over, China is los­ing its edge on cheap la­bor costs, said Tong Ji­adong, vice-pres­i­dent of Nankai Univer­sity.

“The com­pe­ti­tion is get­ting more in­tense. As the coun­try tries to re­place out­dated man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pac­ity, new trad­ing meth­ods and high-end prod­ucts with more added value need to be en­cour­aged,” Tong said.

Guangzhou Bosma Op­to­elec­tronic Tech­nol­ogy Co also wit­nessed its sales and prof­its de­clin­ing, due to de­creased de­mand in tra­di­tional mar­kets such as Europe and the US.

But Zeng Dexiang, pres­i­dent of the com­pany, said he re­mains op­ti­mistic, since his com­pany has di­ver­si­fied its prod­uct port­fo­lio with cloud­com­put­ing seg­ments.

In Wen­zhou, the coun­try’s trade hub in East China’s Zhe­jiang prov­ince, cloth­ing en­ter­prises are fac­ing mount­ing dif­fi­cul­ties in ex­port­ing, with a year-on-year plunge of 18 per­cent last year, ac­cord­ing to Chen Qix­i­ang, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the Wen­zhou Cham­ber of Cloth­ing Com­merce.

This is partly be­cause of the slower-than-ex­pected re­cov­ery of Euro­pean economies and the un­sta­ble sit­u­a­tion in the Middle East, Chen said.

Dongyi Shoes Co, an ex­por­to­ri­ented shoe man­u­fac­turer in Wen­zhou, is also wit­ness­ing a sharp yearly de­cline of up to 10 per­cent in ex­port vol­ume, as well as fewer or­ders from abroad.

“We have no other op­tion but to switch from tra­di­tional strong mar­kets, such as Rus­sia and US, to more emerg­ing ones like the UK, Ger­many and even Brazil, for more part­ners and prof­its,” said Chen Xi, gen­eral man­ager of Dongyi.

Con­tact the writ­ers through yangz­i­man@chi­nadaily. com.cn

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