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Economy in Brief

China's Trade Balance and the Changing Pattern of Trade
by Louise Curley October 13. 2008

China chalked up another monthly record surplus on its trade in goods in September, rising $3.8 billion to $28.8 billion. Exports increased by $1.8 billion and imports declined by $2.0 billion, as shown in the first chart. So far this year, the surplus on trade is almost 4% below the comparable period of last year.

Not only has the surplus shown some moderate signs of diminishing this year, but there continue to be changes in the pattern of trade. Trade by country is not yet available for September, but the January through August data for this year show that exports to North America, largely the U. S., have increased over the comparable period of last year by the lowest percentage among the broad areas of the world. Exports to North America were up 10.5%; those to Asia, Oceania and Europe were up 20 to 30% and those to Africa and Latin America were up over 40% as can be seen in the table below.

Not only are the increases in China's exports to North America lower than those in other areas of the world, China's imports from North America show the smallest increase, 22.3%, compared with 25.6% from Asia and the Middle East and 29.4% from Europe. Imports from Africa, Latin America and Oceania were up 83.5%, 50.9% and 48.1% respectively.

CHINA TRADE (Jan-Aug, bil. US$) Exports Imports Balance
2008  2007  % Chg 2008 2007   % Chg 2008  2007  Chg %
Asia and Middle East 788.3 357.8 22.4 488.8 389.3 25.6 -50.7 -31.5 -19.2
Africa 32.8 23.4 40.2 41.1 22.4 83.5 -8.3 1.0 -9.3
Europe 225.2 178.9 25.9 115.4 89.2 29.4 109.8 89.7 20.1
Latin America 46.7 31.6 47.8 48.9 32.4 50.9 -2.2 -0.8 -1.4
North America 178.3 161.3 10.5 64.2 52.5 22.3 114.1 108.8 5.3
Oceania 16.5 12.7 29.9 27.1 18.3 48.1 -10.6 -5.6 -5.0
Total  937.6 765.7 22.5 785.5 604.1 30.0 152.1 161.6 -9.5
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