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Economy in Brief

 No Surprises in China's Balance of Payments and Trade Data 
by Louise Curley May 1, 2006

China's balance of payment data for 2005 were released today and, to no one's surprise, the current account surplus was a record--$160.8 billion, $67.2 billion in the first half of the year and $93.5 in the second half. For the year as a whole, the surplus was $92.2 billion above last year's surplus of $68.7 billion. (Data for China's balance of payments are reported only on a semi annual basis.)

With its large current account surplus and a net inflow of capital, China has been piling up international reserves as can be seen in the first chart that compares the current account surplus with the increase in reserves. China is now the world's largest holder of international reserves having surpassed Japan in November 2004 as seen in the second chart.As of December, 2005, China's holdings of foreign reserves less gold amounted to $822 billion and the latest data for February, 2006, show a further rise to $856 billion.

Data for China's trade through March 2006 was also released today. The widening gap between exports to and imports from the United States shows no sign of diminishing as can be seen in the third chart.

Data on China's trade and balance of payments may be found in the Haver CHINA and EMERGEPR data bases. The data on the balance of payments are identical in both data bases, but the data on trade are more detailed in the CHINA data base.

China  (Bil. US $) Mar 06 Feb 06 Mar 05 M/M % Y/Y % 2005 2004  2003  
Trade in Goods
  Exports 77.9 70.1 61.0 11.1 29.7 762.0 593.3 438.2
  Imports 63.2 66.4 52.3 -4.8 20.8 660.0 561.2 412.8
  Balance 14.7 3.7 8.6 11.0 dif 6.1 dif 102.0 32.1 25.5
  Balance with U. S. 12.6 10.5 9.2 2.1 dif 3.4 dif 114.2 80.3 58.6
Balance of Payments  H2 06 H1 05 H2 05 H/H dif Y/Y dif 2005 2004  2003  
Current Account 160.8 67.3 68.6 93.5 92.2 160.8 68.6 45.9
Capital Account  4.1 2.2  -0.1   1.9 4.2  4.1  -0.1  -0.0 
Financial Account 58.9 36.1 110.7 22.7 51.9 58.9 110.7 52.8
Change in Reserves* -207.0 -100.5 -206.4 -106.6 -0.6 -207.0 -206.4 117.0
Errors & Omissions -16.77 -5.1 27.05 -11.9 -43.8 -16.77 27.05 18.42
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