Econintersect: China still has a trade surplus in June 2013 but the encouraging data ends there. Exports declined by 3.1% year-over-year and by 4.6% from last month (May). Imports declined 0.7% from the same month a year ago and 9.3% from May. The trade surplus for June was $27.1 billion hitting the expectation of $27.0 billion almost on the nose. Economists and analysts missed big time on the components though, with a consensus for +4.0% for exports and +8.0% for imports (year-over-year).
The trade surplus for June was the second best for 2013, besting all but January ($29.1 billion). $27.1 billion for January was up from $20.4 billion in May and $18.1 billion in April. The average for the first six months of 2013 is $18.2 billion.
Balance of trade for the second half of 2012 averaged $27.1 billion after a weak first half average of $10.6 billion per month. The first half of 2013 was stronger than the same period in 2012.
Reuters called the trade data "dismal" and suggested it indicated a lower than expected GDP growth for the second quarter could be reported next Monday (15 July). Expectations have already been set for a slowdown to 7.5% annual rate for GDP growth in the second quarter. Analysts are now bracing for an even lower number.
Simon Rabinovitch in the Financial Times remarked on a sanguine government reaction:
China’s new leaders have so far shown little concern, instead describing the slowdown as part of the country’s efforts at rebalancing the economy away from an over-reliance on investment and towards a more sustainable growth model.
The year-over year decline in exports was the first in almost five years.
- Dismal China trade data points to weaker second quarter GDP growth (Reuters, 09 July 2013)
- China trade numbers suggest deeper slowdown (Simon Rabinovitch, Financial Times, 10 July 2013)
- China Economic Indicators (Trading Economics)