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Economy in Brief

A Record Trade Deficit For China
by Louise Curley  March 12, 2012

China's exports of goods declined a record $28 billion in February and imports increased $14.4 billion leaving the country with a $19.3 billion trade deficit, the largest in recent history and $42.2 billion larger than the deficit in 2011. Total exports, imports and the balance of trade are shown in the attached chart. Trade has usually been disrupted by the Chinese New Year--exports tend to decline and imports to rise around the New Year. Until recently, however, the impact had not been particularly unusual. Last year there was a small trade deficit of $2 billions in February for the first time. This year's big deficit suggests that in the future the impact of the New Year on the economy may continue to be more significant than it has been in the past. But, if this is the case, there is likely to be some make up in the coming months when exports will increase and imports decrease

Data on Chinese trade by country, except for the United States and the European Union, are only available with delays of several months. In addition these data do not include the revisions in the data, that are made in the total trade data. However, the 27 countries of the European Union and the United States make up a significant proportion of China's trading partners. Both the United States and the European Union improved their trade balances with China. The U. S. balance declined $4.9 billion to $15.2 billion in February of this year from $20 billion in January, while that in the EU declined much more, $7.8 billion from $11.7 billion to $3.9 billion. China's exports to the U.S. declined $4 billion in January and and imports from the U. S. 1ncreased $0.7 Billion.& For the EU, exports were down $4.5 billion and imports were up $3.3 billion.

  Feb'12 Jan'11 Feb'11 M/M Chg Y/Y Chg 2011 2010 2000
China Total Trade in Goods
Exports 142.1 170.0 133.2 -27.9 8.5 1890.3 1573.5 1197.0
Imports 162.1 147.0 135.2 14.4 26.2 1741.8 1394.8 1001.3
Balance -19.3 23.0 -2.0 -42.3 -17.3 148.4 178.8 195.6
Trade With USA
Exports 26.3 30.3 23.4 -4.1 0.9 322.7 282.0 220.0
Imports 11.0 10.3 10.1 0.7 2.8 121.8 104.7 77.5
Balance 15.2 20.0 13.4 -4.9 1.8 120.9 180.3 142.6
Trade With EU
Exports 24.7 29.2 25.5 -4.5 -0.8 354.7 310.0 235.2
Imports 20.8 17.5 16.1 3.3 4..7 210.0 168.3 122.87.
Balance 3.9 11.7 9.4 -7.8 -5.5 143.9 142.6 107.4
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