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ECONOMY: China’s Exports Regain Strength
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China’s Exports Regain Strength
By Morgan Brandy

BT 201806 Economy 03      据4月份的数据显示,3月份的下行表现只是暂时的。4月份出口额明显高于预期,同比增长12.9%,同时进口额也在4月有所增加,高出预期6.3个百分点。在出口产品中,科技产品出口功不可没,占到了我国出口总量的一大部分。尽管数据利好,但一些经济学家仍然警告实际业绩可能比去年4月的数字有所下降。

      今年4月,我国的贸易顺差为287.8亿美元,虽然低于去年同期水平,但仍高于3月份出现的贸易逆差(49.83亿美元)。截至2018年,中国的贸易顺差已达到778.7亿美元。

      尽管贸易保护主义升温使得贸易环境日益紧张,但中国对美贸易账户4月份取得221.9亿美元的盈余。与外贸看涨的数据不同,中国的外汇储备低于预期。 4月份外汇储备减少了179.7亿美,为五个月来的最低水平。尽管世界最大的两个经济体美国和中国之间的贸易争端可能会对外汇储备和经济增长构成压力,但监管机构向投资者保证这一争端的影响是可控的。

      截至4月底,我国的黄金储备也降至777.88亿美元,低于3月底的784.19亿美元。贷款方面,就国内业务而言,银行仅在4月份就提供了11.8亿元人民币的贷款,高于预估的11亿元,同时高于3月份的11.2亿元人民币。

      从以上数据可见,除了外汇储备波动之外,我国经济似乎正从3月份的下滑中回升。贸易战带来的风险是许多经济学家共同关心的问题,但风险基本可控,我国政府也正在采取适当措施防止贸易战对经济增长造成负面影响。今年的经济增长预计仍将保持稳健的步伐。

Data releases over the month of April proved that weak numbers printed in March were temporary. Exports showed more than expected strength, and imports also increased in the month of April. Exports increased by 12.9% on a year on year basis, 6.3 points higher than expected. This has been a considerable improvement from the 2.7 decrease in March.
 

Tech products formed the lion’s share of Chinese shipments abroad as they led the growth in exports.
 

While the numbers revived optimism about robust growth, some economists still warned that the performance may have decreased from the same figures in April last year.
 

In the period from January to April, collective growth in exports reached 16.5 percent, whereas imports increased by 19.6 percent. China’s trade surplus was USD 28.78 billion in April, 2018. Although it is lower than what it was a year ago, it is still higher than figures in March when China had a trade deficit of (4.983) billion USD. China’s trade surplus has reached thus far in 2018 (until April) 77.87 billion USD, declining significantly from the trade surplus for the period from January till April in 2017 as it was USD 101.72 billion.
 

Imports, on the other hand, grew by 21.5 percent, beating expectations of 16 percent growth. This is also an improvement from last month wherein imports grew by 14.4 percent.
 

China’s Trade Surplus with America

Despite growing tensions regarding the prospects of a trade war and the rise of protectionism, China’s trade account with America recorded a surplus of USD22.19 billion in April, which is around USD6.76 billion higher than March’s surplus of USD15.43. However, the surplus remains much lesser than the surplus in January that was pegged at $80.4 billion.

BT 201806 Economy 02Foreign Reserves Decline in April

Unlike foreign trade performance figures, China’s FX foreign reserves were below expectations. The country’s reserves fell by $17.97 billion in April, against expectations of a decrease by $10 billion. April’s foreign reserve numbers recorded the lowest level in five months, in the shadow of a strengthening dollar against most major currencies, as measured by the US dollar index, which rose around 2% last month.
 

In April, FX reserves stood at $3.125 trillion, the lowest number since November 2017. The State Administration of Foreign reserves attributed the decline to the dollar’s strength and to the correction in asset prices, as can be witnessed in major indices.
 

Some analysts considered that this drop could be a sign of easing regulations on capital outflow. However, others thought that the strengthening dollar was the main (and only) culprit. The numbers still remain within the regulators’ desired range, and such fluctuations can occur at this time of the year due to seasonal effects.
 

The Chinese government has indeed eased restrictions on capital outflow, as it has allowed investors to invest more in global financial markets. It also allowed foreign investors to invest in different Chinese securities such as equities, bonds, and commodity futures. Those two moves will stimulate both capital inflows and outflows.
 

And while the trade dispute between the largest two economies in the world – the US and China – can weigh on both FX foreign reserves and economic growth, the regulator assured investors that the impact of this dispute is manageable.
 

China’s gold reserves also dropped to $77.788 billion in value by the end of April, down from $78.419 billion at the end of March.

BT 201806 Economy 01Banking Loans Rise

In terms of domestic activity, the demand for loans increased as banks provided 1.18 billion Yuan (US$248.7 billion) worth of loans in April alone. This was higher than forecasts that had been placed at 1.1 billion Yuan and higher than March’s increase of 1.12 billion Yuan.
 

The key factor behind this rise was the effort of the government in attempting to stimulate the economy to counter the effects of trade frictions between China and the US.
 

Thus far in 2018 (until the end of April), banks have collectively provided 6.04 trillion Yuan in loans, which is higher than the collective loans provided in the same period in 2017 by 13.5%.
 

The rise in loans provided has been continuous as the numbers have been increasing each year. Chinese economy is moving up in its credit cycle, as the demand for credit remains strong, which indicates robust economic activity. This rise has taken place during times when the government is maintaining its control over lending to manage credit risk.
 

Conclusion

Apart from fluctuations in FX foreign reserves, Chinese economy seems to be rebounding from its slow activity in March. April’s data provides more evidence that the decline in March was due to seasonal factors. The risk of trade war is a shared concern among many economists. Yet, the risk is largely manageable, and the Chinese government is taking appropriate measures to prevent any negative impact on economic growth. Growth remains solid for this year, and projection of 6.8% growth rate or even higher may very well be realized by the end of 2018.

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