China's foreign trade fell by 9.4% year-on-year in February to stand at 1.81 trillion yuan (269.355 million dollars, 240.507 million euros), according to data published on Friday by the General Administration of Customs.
The fall of the Asian giant's foreign trade fuels concern for the health of the global economy. Most of the international institutions (IMF, OECD and ECB) have revised their economic forecasts downwards for the coming months in the face of a more pronounced slowdown in economic activity. Among the arguments put forward include the cooling of the Chinese economy, the consequences of the trade war between the US and China or the effects of Brexit.
The figures revealed this Friday by the Chinese authorities are disturbing. Exports fell 16.6% year-on-year to 922,760 million yuan (137,321 million dollars, 122,614 million euros); Imports registered a much smaller decrease, of 0.3%, and stood at 888.3 billion yuan (132,192 million dollars, 118,035 million euros). Thus, the trade surplus was reduced by 84% to 34,460 million yuan (5,128 million dollars, 4,580 million euros).
"The published data reinforces our view that China's commercial recession began," said Raymond Yeung of ANZ bank, according to AFP. "We see little reason to expect a recovery in the short term," he added.
However, the statement in which the Administration published this data tries to offer the positive side of the figures, noting that foreign trade increased by 0.7% year-on-year if the figures for January and February are combined – in the first month of 2019 advanced by 8.7% -.
Likewise, he blames the bad result of February on the seasonal factors derived from the lunar New Year – the main holiday of the year in China – and adds that, subtracting those effects from the calculation, foreign trade would have grown by 3.9%.
Exchanges with the United States registered a year-on-year reduction of 16.1%, even higher than in January (10.1%), standing at 524.97 billion yuan (78,113 million dollars, 69,771 million euros).
Although this data shows once again the effect of the trade war that both countries maintain -as much as the latest information points to the fact that the negotiating teams have approached positions- the United States, like in January, monopolized the 11.6% of China's foreign trade.
The exports to the North American country contracted 9.9%, while the imports did the same in a 32.2%.
This caused the trade surplus with respect to the United States -whose reduction is one of the main demands of the Government led by Donald Trump- to be extended by 3.9% to 290.09 billion yuan (43.164 billion dollars, 38.551 million of euros).
Meanwhile, trade with the European Union (EU) increased by 8.9% and accounted for 16.2% of total Chinese exchanges with abroad, and the one registered with the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ( ASEAN) grew by 1.9%, and accounted for 12.8% of the total.