China’s record-breaking export strength continued into last month, pushing its annual trade surplus to a new high and providing support to an economy being dragged by a property-market slump and COVID-19 outbreaks.
Exports last month were US$340.5 billion, taking the full year total to US$3.36 trillion, the Chinese General Administration of Customs said in a statement yesterday.
Imports were US$246 billion last month and US$2.69 trillion for last year, leaving a trade surplus of US$94.5 billion for the month and US$676 billion for the full year.
The data confirm the picture for all of last year — strong demand for Chinese goods of all kinds as the nation’s factories pumped out everything from electronics to garden furniture.
However, trade growth is expected to be weaker this year as demand for work-from-home technology and healthcare equipment slows, and consumption shifts toward services as COVID-19 restrictions ease.
“Last year’s growth of 30 percent is clearly hard to sustain,” said Ding Shuang (丁爽), lead economist for greater China and North Asia at Standard Chartered PLC. “So export growth this year will decline sharply,” partly because global growth is likely to slow down.
China’s domestic restrictions and lockdowns aimed at containing virus outbreaks might also cause some delays, but “the key remains how external demand may evolve,” Ding said.
Outbreaks of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 in China are sending jitters through supply chains, as the nation’s production and shipping face disruptions from virus containment measures.
While there has not been widespread damage to industrial output or trade so far, some factories have shut down or slowed output in Xian and elsewhere, and the capacity of ports in Ningbo, Shenzhen, Tianjin and Shanghai have been affected.
There will be more uncertain, unstable and unbalanced factors in foreign trade this year, Chinese customs spokesman Li Kuiwen (李魁文) told a briefing in Beijing.
Even though there is likely to be some pressure on the data, including from a higher base of comparison, the long-term positive fundamentals for trade would not change, Li said.
Global dependence on Chinese production might be reduced if places like Southeast Asia recover from their virus outbreaks.
That would allow companies to move orders back to that region after some businesses shifted production to China recently to take advantage of the nation’s “zero COVID-19” policies.
MediaTek Inc (聯發科), the world’s biggest 5G chip supplier, saw its ranking rise by one notch to No. 7 last year among world semiconductor vendors, as it benefited from the rapid 5G smartphone uptake in China after Huawei Technologies Co (華為) was forced to exit the market, Gartner Inc said in a report yesterday. MediaTek’s revenue soared 58.8 percent to US$17.45 billion last year from US$10.99 billion in 2020, outpacing the global semiconductor industry’s growth of 25 percent, according to Gartner’s tally. That gave MediaTek a 3 percent market share. The Hsinchu-based chip company ranked No. 8 in 2020, behind Texas Instruments
Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp (高端疫苗) yesterday reported higher neutralizing antibody levels in people who were given its COVID-19 vaccine as a booster after two AstraZeneca doses, the company said. In a trial of 200 participants who received Medigen’s COVID-19 vaccine, neutralizing antibodies against the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 grew by 5.7 times one month after being administered, Taoyuan General Hospital said. Medigen said that the results have been submitted to medRxiv, an online platform for researchers to share complete but unpublished papers. Another trial conducted by National Taiwan University Hospital showed that among 45 participants who received three doses of the Medigen vaccine,
BEATING EXPECTATIONS: With electric vehicles and the metaverse on the horizon, the company predicts a solid first quarter as customers stockpile inventories Key iPhone assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) could achieve an “unprecedented” performance in the first quarter, chairman Young Liu (劉揚偉) said. “Our performance in the first quarter might surpass how we fared in the past few years, and it is likely that some staff at key sites might only get two days off during the Lunar New Year holiday,” Liu said in prepared remarks for the company’s annual workers’ party yesterday. Manufacturers around the world are racing to build up inventory out of fear that outbreaks of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 and other uncertainties could further disrupt their supply
Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd (怡和洋行), a diversified Asia-based group whose businesses span property, transport, retail and luxury hotels, is considering strategic options for its restaurant unit, people with knowledge of the matter said. The Singapore-traded conglomerate is weighing a sale of Jardine Restaurant Group (怡和餐飲集團), a wholly owned subsidiary that operates KFC and Pizza Hut franchises in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and Vietnam, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. The subsidiary also runs Pizza Hut restaurants in Myanmar, according to its Web site. Jardine Matheson has held preliminary discussions with advisers, the people said, adding