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Economy in Brief

China' Trade in Goods:  Changes in Direction
by Louise Curley May 16, 2005

China's balance of trade, which had risen sharply during 2004 and into January of this year, has begun to moderate. The April balance was $7,259 million compared to $7,974 in March and the peak of $11,443 reached in January. China's balance of trade in goods is shown in the first chart. Trade balances among countries are not yet available for April. Changes from February to March are shown in the following table. During the month of March, China's balance of trade with the U. S., Japan, Korea and Taiwan improved but deteriorated with the Euro Area it deteriorated.

In spite of the rise in the balance of trade in 2004, the largest yearly balance of trade was reached back in 1998. At that time the balance was $43,476 million compared with $32,868 in 2004. The direction of trade has changed markedly since then. The table below lists the balances of trade with selected areas and countries and the changes between 1998 and 2004. By far the largest change has taken place in the China-US trade, where China's surplus in the balance of trade has increased by $59,358 million from $20,968 million in 1998 to $80,321 million in 2004. The second chart compares China's total balance of trade with that for the United States. Over this period, China also improved its surplus with Europe from $7,085 million to $33, 648 million. Offsetting the increases in surpluses with the U. S. and Europe were the increases in deficits with Asian countries and Latin America. (Note: Data for Latin America were taken from the IMFDOT data base, which has much more country detail than the China data base in EMERGEPR)

Millions of US$
Apr 05 Mar 05 Feb  05 M/M chg 2004- 1998 2004  2003    2002  1998
Total Trade Balance 7259 7974 4877 2097 -10608 32868 25558 30426 43476
Balance with U. S. 9228 8363 865 59358 80321 58627 42732 20968
Balance with Europe   4353 5485 -1131 26563 33648 18461 5770 7085
Balance with Japan   -882 -1547 665 -21966 -20655 -14750 -5006 1311
Balance with Korea   -3081 -3780 699 -24941 -34356 -23056 -13073 -9415
Balance with Taiwan   -4321 -4690 369 -38385 -51212 -31493 -22338 -12827
Balance with Latin America n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. -6879 -4615 -3218 928 2264
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