China trade weakens after cities shut down to fight virus

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China’s export growth tumbled in April after Shanghai and other major industrial cities were shut down to fight virus outbreaks

May 9, 2022, 5: 02 AM

3 min read

BEIJING — China’s export growth tumbled in April after Shanghai and other major industrial cities were shut down to fight virus outbreaks.

Exports rose 3.7% over a year earlier to $273.6 billion, down sharply from March’s 15.7% growth, customs data showed Monday. Reflecting weak Chinese demand, imports crept up 0.7% to $222.5 billion, in line with the previous month’s growth below 1%. The data confirmed fears that the “zero-COVID” strategy of the ruling Communist Party that shut down most businesses in Shanghai, and other industrial centers, would slow trade and activity in autos and electronics.

Forecasters expect activity to improve this month as infections ease, but President Xi Jinping last week affirmed Beijing’s commitment to “zero-COVID,” prompting expectations it will weigh on manufacturing, retailing and trade.

Exports to the United States rose 9.5% to $46 billion despite lingering tariff hikes in a fight over Beijing’s technology ambitions. Imports of American goods advanced 0.9% to $13.8 billion.

China’s global trade surplus widened by 19.4% to $51.1 billion while the politically volatile surplus with the United States contracted by 65% to $9.8 billion.

China’s case numbers in its latest outbreaks are relatively low, but Beijing’s insistence on isolating every infected person confined most of Shanghai’s 25 million people to their homes and suspended access to Guangzhou, a manufacturing and trading center in the south, and industrial center Changchun in the northeast.

Authorities have eased controls on Shanghai and allowed millions of people out of their homes, but restrictions have increased in Beijing and some other cities.

Managers of the Port of Shanghai, the world’s busiest, say it is functioning normally, but figures they cite for its daily cargo volume are down 30% from normal.

Auto factories, and other manufacturers that attempted to keep their operations going by having workers live at their facilities, were forced to cut or stop production due to disruptions in component supplies.

China’s economy grew by a weak 4.8% over a year earlier in the quarter ending in March, up from 4% from the final three months of 2021. Anti-virus controls will put more pressure on activity in April-June, according to economists.


ABC News


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