China’s exports and imports fell in August


FILE – Containers wait to be transported on a dockyard in Yantai in eastern China’s Shandong province on Aug. 6, 2023. China’s exports declined at a slower pace in August, even as the world’s second biggest economy remains under pressure amid weaker demand both domestically and abroad, according to customs data Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023. (Chinatopix via AP, File)

HONG KONG  — China’s exports and imports both fell in August from a year earlier, reflecting tepid global demand that is adding to pressures on its slowing economy.

Customs data released Thursday showed exports for August slumped 8.8 percent to $284.87 billion in the fourth straight month of decline. Imports slid 7.3 percent to $216.51 billion.

The total trade surplus fell to $68.36 billion from $80.6 billion in July.

Chinese leaders have in rolled out various policy measures to shore up the economy after the country’s rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic fizzled earlier than expected.

READ: China to step up policy adjustments amid tortuous recovery

The central bank has eased borrowing rules and and cut mortgage rates for first-time home buyers while providing some tax relief measures for small businesses.

So far, the authorities have avoided large-scale stimulus spending or broader tax cuts.

Demand for Chinese exports weakened after the Federal Reserve and central banks in Europe and Asia began raising interest rates last year to cool inflation that was at multi-decade highs.

READ: China’s July exports, imports fall much faster than expected

Economists say much of the impact of those rate increases has yet to filter through major Western economies, where consumer spending has remained relatively strong.

“Looking ahead, we expect exports to decline over the coming months before bottoming out toward the end of the year,” Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said in a report.

“Most measures of export orders point to a more substantial pullback in foreign demand than has so far been reflected in the customs data,” he said.

China’s trade has been gradually declining for the past two years, though August’s drops in export and imports were less severe than in July, when exports fell 14.5 percent from a year earlier while imports were 12.4 percent lower.

READ: China steel exports seen surging to seven-year high as home demand wilts

Politically sensitive exports to the U.S. fell 17.4 percent from a year earlier to $45 billion, the customs data showed, while imports of U.S. goods slid 4.9 percent to nearly $12 billion.

China’s imports from Russia, mostly oil and gas, increased 13.3 percent from a year earlier to $11.52 billion.

Chinese purchases of Russian energy have swelled, helping to offset revenue lost to Western sanctions imposed to punish the Kremlin for its invasion of Ukraine.

Exports to the European Union tumbled 10.5 percent from the same time last year to $41.3 billion, while imports of European goods declined 2.5 percent to $24.56 billion.

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