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Trade war with US hampered 2019 foreign trade: China

The trade surplus increased by 25.4 per cent, totalling 2.92 trillion yuan.

IANS | Beijing |

China’s international trade growth slowed to 3.4 per cent in 2019, affected by the trade war with the US, with which exchanges decreased 10.7 per cent, according to official data published on Tuesday.

China’s foreign trade increased by 3.4 per cent to 31.54 trillion yuan ($4.57 trillion) in 2019, figures of the General Administration of Customs showed.

Exports grew by 5 per cent in 2019 to 17.23 trillion yuan, while imports increased by 1.6 per cent to 14.31 trillion yuan, reports Efe news citing the data as saying.

The trade surplus increased by 25.4 per cent, totalling 2.92 trillion yuan.

Although the growth rate was lower than in the previous two years, customs authorities underlined that the total trade volume, as well as imports and exports, set record nominal figures in 2019.

There was a sharp increase in pork imports (75 per cent), a product in great demand in China and for which supply was severely affected by the African swine fever epidemic.

Purchases of veal meat abroad, used as a substitute, also experienced a notable increase (59.7 per cent).

China’s trade scenario last year was marked by the ongoing trade war with the US, leading bilateral trade between them to fall by 10.7 per cent to 3.73 trillion yuan.

The figure means that the US was no longer China’s second-largest trading partner, and fell to third place, although it was still far superior to fourth-placed Japan.

Chinese exports to the US reduced by 8.7 per cent to 2.89 trillion yuan, while imports from the North American country dropped by 17.1 per cent to 845.38 billion yuan.

This lopsided trade balance between them in favour of China – which last year stood at 2.04 trillion yuan, a drop of 4.7 per cent – was among the major reasons for US President Donald Trump’s administration to start the trade war with Beijing.

While trade with the US fell, China increased exchanges with the European Union by 8 per cent, the UK (12 per cent).

One of the commercial year’s notable relationships was with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a regional bloc with which China raised its businesses by 14.1 per cent and took the place of the US as Beijing’s second-largest trading partner.

In addition, the Asian giant carried out 8 per cent more year-on-year more purchases and sales in Latin America in 2019, and 6.8 per cent more in Africa.

The country’s Customs authorities also highlighted trade growth with countries that are part of the Chinese initiative of the New Silk Routes, which rose by 10.8 per cent.