China trade surplus

A month before his official inauguration, Donald Trump is already tossing diplomatic grenades in China’s direction. It is a sign of things to come. 2017 is shaping up to be a highly eventful, taut and precarious year for China-US relations. This is partly due to a simple scheduling coincidence.

2017 will be the first time ever when both the US and the PRC in the same year will usher in new governments. The US will kick things off on January 20th by swearing in Donald Trump as President. China, meanwhile, will undertake its own large political upheaval, its five-yearly change in political leadership, culminating in the 19th Communist Party Congress sometime late in the year. Virtually the entire government hierarchy, from local mayors on up, will be changed in a monumental job-swapping exercise orchestrated by Xi Jinping, China’s president. Read more

China corruptionEmerging market (EM) currencies have tumbled against the US dollar over the past three months – with a single exception. Not only has the renminbi resisted kowtowing to the resurgent greenback, it has strengthened against it even as the currencies of its BRIC counterparts – the real, the rouble and the rupee – have fallen 7.8 per cent, 14.3 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively since July.

This raises an obvious question: for how long can the renminbi refuse to accept the US dollar renaissance? Read more

By Jukka Pihlman, Standard Chartered

Adopted at pace by central banks around the world, China’s renminbi is now seen by many as a de facto reserve currency – and well on the way to becoming an official one.

Central banks have caught the renminbi fever, and are showing strong interest in investing part of their foreign-currency reserves in the Chinese currency, with more than 50 central banks now actively doing so either onshore or offshore.

Uptake is strongest in Asia, Africa and South America – regions with fast-growing trade and investment links with China – but even in Europe central banks are busy allocating reserves to the renminbi. Read more

Chinese trade balance rose 8 per cent in August from 2012, up to $28.5bn from $17.8bn in July. The improvement was due to higher than expected exports, as demand picked up in Asia and parts of the developed world.

But trade data can be very volatile. Looking at a rolling 12 months, the growth in trade surplus is slowing. And although you would expect China to run a trade surplus with most, if not all, trading partners – China is the world’s biggest exporter, after all – there are some strange statistical puzzles in the data. Chart of the week takes a closer look. Read more

At first glance, China’s trade figures for January are stellar: exports up 25 per cent year on year, imports up 28.8 per cent.

But as ever at this time of year, the great migration of the Chinese New Year holiday makes reading the data a nightmare. Read more

Long assailed for running a massive trade surplus with the US, China has come out as the big winner from a new method for calculating global trade flows. When “value added” production is factored in, China’s surplus vis-à-vis the US shrinks by 25 per cent, according to the World Trade Organisation and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

These are important findings that Beijing will no doubt cite the next time it wants to repel foreign criticism of its export and currency policies. But the calculations also give rise to a knock-on question: could China’s surplus prove to be stickier precisely because it still has a ways to go up the value chain? Read more

China’s exports rebounded to 14.1 per cent year on year in December – far higher than expected by economists. Imports were up 6 per cent too, after five slow months. Stocks have ticked upwards in response. Hurrah!

So why do some analysts sound less than cheerful? Read more

The number that matters in China’s trade figures, published on Tuesday, is for imports. With the global economy slowing, all eyes are on the Middle Kingdom to see whether it can once again help pull the world out of trouble.

The June data are far from reassuring. Imports grew by just 6.3 per cent, around half the 12.7 per cent recorded in May and half the forecast rate. Monthly figures fluctuate, but if June sets the trend for the coming months, China faces challenges avoiding a hard landing. And if China lands hard, so will much of the rest of the world. Read more

Another month, another alarming statistic from China. This month, amid all the other gloom, came the trade surplus.

It jumped from $5.3bn in March to $18.4bn in April. Not the right direction, certainly. But is there cause for alarm? And what is the long term pattern of China’s trade, anyway? Chart of the week takes a look. Read more