On March 11, MOFCOM spokesman Shen Danyang took questions from the media on imports and exports in the first two months of 2014.
Q: According to Customs statistics, the growth rate of China’s import and export in February saw a significant decline as compared with that in January, what are the main reasons? How would you judge the situation of China’s foreign trade in 2014?
A: According to Customs statistics, China’s imports and exports totaled 3.87 trillion yuan in January-February 2014, about USD 633.57 billion, with a year-on-year increase of 3.8%. Of which exports were 1.96 trillion yuan, about USD 321.23 billion, down by 1.6% year on year; and imports were 1.9 trillion yuan, about USD 312.34 billion, up by 10% year on year.
The sharp decrease of export growth in February became a major reason for the significant decline of import and export growth in January-February. According to Customs statistics, China’s total exports amounted to 696.52 billion yuan in February, about USD 114.1 billion, down by 18.1% year on year.
According to analysis by MOFCOM, export decrease in February was mainly due to seasonal factors, and was within expectations. China’s foreign trade growth often saw fluctuations in January and February due to the Spring Festival. And according to statistics over the past decade, the difference of the average growth rate of foreign trade in January and February reached 17.6%, and even exceeded 35% in several years. The Spring Festival 2014 is in early February, and declaration and shipments by enterprises saw an increase before the Spring Festival as the staff would return home, and it would take time to resume production and management after the holiday season, therefore, customs declaration and shipment were carried out before the Spring Festival and parts of exports were moved ahead to January, which made export growth in January rose rapidly, and saw a sharp decline in February.
Another factor for the sharp decline of export growth in February 2014 was that there was a relatively high base affected by the abnormal trade growth in certain areas in early 2013. In addition, economic difficulties were exacerbated in some emerging economies affected by the quantitative easing policy of the U.S. Federal Reserve, and there was a short-term decline in import demand, which might also have an impact on China’s export growth.
Although there were some fluctuations in foreign trade growth in January-February, our judgment on foreign trade in 2014 has not changed, and we have confidence that the expected target of about 7.5% annual increase in the whole year can be achieved.