China's import and export volume in 2018 rose 9.7 percent year on year to more than 30 trillion yuan (4.4 trillion U.S. dollars), a record high amid the complex circumstances mainly thanks to the country's robust ang resilient private sector.
"Private enterprises contributed more than half to China's foreign trade growth in 2018, a bright spot of China's foreign trade development," said Li Kuiwen, spokesperson of the General Administration of Customs.
This indicates the private sector's stronger presence in driving China's foreign trade.
Song Ziqiang, head of the import and export department of Kingfa Technology Co., Ltd., said his company had achieved over 10 percent growth in both imports and exports in 2018.
"In particular, our exports of biodegradable plastics, a high value-added new material, rose 117 percent year on year, accounting for about a third of such products in the European market," Song said.
As a private new material enterprise in the southern Guangdong Province, Kingfa uses more than 4 percent of the company's annual sales revenue for research and development in high-performance new materials such as special plastics and carbon fiber.
"With high-tech innovation and government support for private companies and the real economy, we are confident to realize high-quality development this year," said Song.
New trade forms and business models, including cross-border e-commerce, are showing greater vitality, according to Gu Xueming, head of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce.
"The effect of China's foreign trade transformation and structural adjustment will be further demonstrated," Gu said.
The official data shows that China's total retail imports and exports via cross-border e-commerce management platforms of customs increased by 50 percent in 2018.
"Tariff cuts have attracted more overseas quality commodities to China, and consumer goods for daily use have become one of the import priorities," said Huang Hongying, vice president of Vipshop Holdings Ltd., a Chinese online discount retailer.
"The expanded imported consumer goods market brings new opportunities for e-commerce platforms. Our foreign purchases are estimated to exceed 10 billion yuan in the future," Huang said.
China's home appliance marker Galanz exported its products to more than 70 countries and regions along the Belt and Road in 2018. About 3 million microwave ovens were exported. Demands in Southeast Asia have increased significantly, according to Liang Zhaoxian, president of the company.
Domestic appliances are one of China's major export products. Under the Belt and Road Initiative, the company plans to build more branches along the routes and bring more quality products and services to customers, he said.
China's robust economy and improved services have also provided a strong impetus for foreign companies to invest in the country. More than 60,000 foreign-funded enterprises were set up in China last year, up 69.8 percent compared with 2017, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
In 2018, Guangdong, a major hub for foreign trade, attracted tens of billions of dollars of investment in petrochemical projects from Germany chemical company BASF SE and U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil. Foreign companies including Toyota, Shell and Hitachi also expanded their investment and production in the province.
"Our efforts in boosting foreign capital use and creating a better business environment have made a significant contribution to Guangdong's stable development of foreign trade," Yang Yong, deputy director of the Guangzhou Municipal Bureau of Commerce.