Coronavirus: China’s imports and exports dropped again in March

With Covid-19 spreading worldwide, the global economy faces mounting downward pressure. Uncertainties are on the rise. China’s foreign trade is encountering major difficulties,” said Chinese customs spokesman Li Kuiwen.

Overall in the first quarter of 2020, China’s exports dropped 13.3 per cent, with imports down 2.9 per cent.Last week, China’s Ministry of Commerce said that imports and exports had improved in March after the coronavirus outbreak caused a dramatic collapse in the first two months of 2020, but conceded the outlook for China’s exports remained gloomy given the economic damage being done by the continued spread of the virus globally.

Global trade is expected to fall by up to 32 per cent in 2020 due the damage to the economy from the coronavirus pandemic, the World Trade Organisation said last week.

With the end of the lockdowns that shut most Chinese manufacturers in February, most Chinese exporters had resumed at least 70 per cent of their production capacity by March 30, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
But while production has recovered, factories are now faced with a lack of foreign orders due to the impact on demand from the spread of the coronavirus in the United States and Europe.
On Friday, China’s producer price index, reflecting the prices that factories charge wholesalers for their products, dropped 1.5 per cent year-on-year last month, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Last week, China’s cabinet rolled out a series of policies to support trade, including setting up 46 new integrated pilot zones for cross-border e-commerce as well as proceeding with an online session of the Canton Fair, the country’s oldest and largest export trade fair, in late June.

China is also pushing ahead with the 3rd China International Import Expo, which is scheduled to take place in November in Shanghai, the commerce ministry said, with more than 1,000 companies having already registered to attend the event.

On Monday, South Korea confirmed exports for the first 10 days of April tumbled 18.6 per cent from the same period a year earlier, a sharp reversal from the 20.8 per cent jump in March.

Imports into Asia’s fourth-largest economy – considered a bellwether for world trade – also dropped 13.0 per cent, compared to a 14.5 per cent rise in the previous month, according to Korea Customs Service data.

Shipments to China, South Korea’s biggest trading partner, declined 10.2 per cent.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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