Former official stresses RCEP, resilience, strong supply chain, reforms and policy
China's foreign trade will likely grow by double digits in the second half of this year on the back of the nation's strong economic resilience and speedier recovery, a former vice-minister of commerce said.
The annual growth rate of imports is likely to be in double digits in August or September while exports have already returned to double-digit growth since May, said Wei Jianguo, who is now vice-president of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, in an exclusive interview to China Daily.
"Trade potential from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is getting gradually unleashed, and the 19 free trade agreements China has signed with 26 economies will continue to facilitate trade and investment," he said.
The RCEP created the world's largest free trade bloc, and came into effect since Jan 1 as a pact.
"Although overall global demand will likely decline as the COVID pandemic continues and other major economies stall, overseas demand for Chinese products will continue to expand, especially in economies such as the United States, the European Union, South Korea and Japan," he said, adding the Chinese economy is projected to make more contributions to world economic growth within the next five years.
China has comprehensive and stable industrial and supply chains, and the fundamentals of the Chinese economy remain unchanged with a bright long-term outlook. Combined with global energy crunch and shutdown of factories in many European countries, these factors have made Chinese goods more attractive in the world, Wei said.
Customs data showed the nation's exports surged by 13.2 percent year-on-year to reach 11.14 trillion yuan ($1.65 trillion) in the first half, better than the 11.4 percent rise in the first five months. First-half imports rose 4.8 percent year-on-year to 8.66 trillion yuan, better than the 4.7 percent increase in the January-May period.
The twin rises came against a background of the Chinese economy gathering steam in recent months, thanks to pro-growth policies and better control of COVID-19.
The nation's industrial profits grew 0.8 percent year-on-year in June, after shrinking 6.5 percent in May, reversing a two-month fall caused by disruptions from COVID-19 outbreaks, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
"Trade potential of China will get further unleashed in the second half of the year, as the nationwide work and production resumption, and the steady recovery in economic activity in China will inject more impetus into trade growth," Wei said, adding there will likely be an 18-month time window starting now for China to enjoy very high-level growth in foreign trade.
He said the nation must upgrade trade structure and improve trade quality during the time window, through measures such as innovation-led and high-tech-oriented economic transformation and promotion of relocation of some industries in coastal areas to the central and western regions.
"The central and western regions are well prepared for the relocation of industries and have ample resources. It is wrong to say rising labor costs will push factories out of China," he said.
He stressed other measures like accelerating establishment of a unified national domestic market and enhancing the socialist market economy can boost high-quality development of the trade sector.
He said he expects the US will ease levies on Chinese goods within two to three months, either through tariff removal or exemption.
"The US is increasingly relying on Chinese exports, because no other country can replace China for its capability to supply the US with large volumes of the various products it needs, which range from daily consumer goods to anti-COVID products, electronic goods, equipment and machinery," he said.
China's trade surplus with the US will increase. However, the nation's overall trade surplus growth will slow down because imports of energy, minerals and large equipment in the second half are to expand as the nation speeds up effective infrastructure investment, he said.