BEIJING – China’s foreign trade dropped 0.5 percent year-on-year, mainly down to a slump in imports, a factor that has seen its surplus skyrocket 28.9 percent in the same period, according to the General Administration of Customs on Friday.
The official data said that the volume of China’s trade with the rest of the world amounted to 2.71 trillion yuan ($387.9 billion) in October.
This drop comes in stark contrast to the 22.9 percent gain recorded in October 2018.
China’s exports in yuan went up 2.1 percent while the imports dropped 3.5 percent.
The trade surplus was recorded at 301 billion yuan.
Trade with the United States – set against the backdrop of the ongoing trade war that erupted in early 2018 – declined 13.3 percent in October; the sales to the country dropped 13.8 percent and the purchase of US goods declined 11.7 percent.
The world’s most powerful economy remains third in the list of China’s trading partners, behind the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which recorded a 12.9 percent jump in trade with China year-on-year, and the European Union, which saw a more modest increase of four percent.
The trade surplus between China and the US – which President Donald Trump has set its targets on reducing – stood at 186.6 billion yuan ($26.7 billion), 14.5 percent lower than last year.
Economic observers point to poor Chinese trading in the coming months, even if Beijing and Washington sign the so-called first phases of an agreement to end the trade war and gradually lift tariffs.
Julian Evans-Pritchard and Martin Rasmussen, analysts at Capital Economics, a consulting firm, highlighted the relative recovery of imports, which had fallen by 6.2 percent year-on-year in September.
However, there was as of yet little sign that China had followed through on its pledge to buy more US products.
China’s total foreign trade volume until October of this year reached 25.63 trillion yuan.
During this period, exports increased by 4.9 percent while imports dropped 0.4 percent.
The trade surplus until October stood at 2.34 trillion yuan, some 41.1 percent higher than in the first 10 months of 2018.