China Trade Cools As Imports Fall Short But Exports Rise 11%

CNA file

China's trade surplus with the Unites States widened in 2017 while total foreign trade volume maintained rapid growth, customs data showed Friday.

China is replacing coal-fired boilers with natural gas or electric boilers for winter heating in the north. Prices were around 5,500 yuan ($848.44) per tonne this week, off 45 percent from peaks seen in late December. Also, an investigation is proceeding on whether China is forcing American companies to turn over proprietary technologies and information in exchange for access to the Chinese market.

Buying eased in December as refiners and fuel distributors drew on inventories after hefty stockpiling in the previous month, said Seng-Yick Tee, analyst with SIA Energy.

Specifically, China's exports to Taiwan were valued at 297.9 billion yuan in 2017, while its imports were 1.05 trillion yuan, an annual growth of 12.2 percent and 14.5 percent, respectively, the data indicated.

Compared with a month earlier, exports fell 9.7 percent.

China's exporters have had a blockbuster year.

The import growth was fuelled for the second year in a row by independent refineries as the government allowed more firms to import crude, although some of them were forced to scale back operations as authorities stepped up environmental checks.

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The Asian nation's exports last year expanded by 7.9 percent, while imports soared by 15.9 percent for the year.

Shipments of oil, gas, copper concentrate and iron ore all also set new record highs in 2017, as the world's top consumer of commodities continued to scoop up lower-priced raw materials to feed its vast heavy industry.

Economists had expected China's trade surplus to have narrowed to $37 billion in December from November's $40.21 billion.

In 2017, China's overall trade surplus came in at $422.5 billion (€350.8 billion), roughly $64 billion less than in the previous year.

However, exports to the country rose 8.3 percent to $3.34 billion.

The rush to export over the last two months of 2017 was spurred by additional quotas from the government.

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