The Chinese exports unexpectedly fell sharply by 20.7 percent in February as compared to the same period preceding year. Imports declined by 5.2 percent. China’s exports to the US market alone in the first two months of the year, in dollar terms, declined 9.9 percent year-on-year in the wake of the US-led trade war, Chinese customs officials said Friday in Beijing. Imports from America even fell by 32.2 percent in January and February.
Despite the decline in exports to the United States, China sold more imported goods to the US market for $ 290 billion in the two months. China’s trade surplus with America rose 3.9 percent. Due to the long Chinese New Year, which is celebrated every year at a different time between January and February, China’s customs post numbers for both months.
Total trade of China with the world fell 3.9 percent year-on-year in both months. Exports declined 4.6 percent, while imports slipped 3.1 percent. Overall, the trade surplus fell 13.6 percent to $ 43 billion.
The Chinese car market also broke in February. The industry association Passenger Car Association of China (PCA) calculated a drop-in sale by 18.5 percent to 1.19 million pieces, as announced on Friday in Beijing. This results in a decline in sales of around ten percent to 3.37 million units in the first two months of the year. Because of the long Chinese New Year, which is always celebrated at different times between January and February, the numbers can be better compared if both months are considered.
The PCA Association (Passenger Car Association of China) counts the sale of cars, SUVs, minivans and smaller multi-purpose vehicles to customers. China is the largest car market in the world and immensely important for the German manufacturers BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen.
In addition to the PCA figures, every month there is data from the CAAM (Chinese Association of Automobile Manufacturers), which measures manufacturers’ sales to dealers. In January, it slumped by just under 18 percent to just over two million units – February data are not yet available.
Last year, car sales in the country declined year-on-year for the first time in more than 20 years. The tariff dispute between China and the United States is unsettling Chinese car buyers, and high levels of debt, the weakening property market and a generally less buoyant economy are weighing on consumer confidence.
Meanwhile, China is pushing Italy to join its initiative to build a “New Silk Road.” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged the government in Rome on Friday at a press conference during the annual meeting of the People’s Congress in Beijing not to bow to pressure in the European Union to refrain from the project. “Italy is an independent country and we trust that it will stick to the decision made independently,” said the Foreign Minister.
The Italian government is considering, according to press reports, the signing of an agreement at the visit of China’s party leader Xi Jinping later this month. Italy would be the largest economy so far and the first member of the Group of Major Industrialized Countries (G7) to join the project called the Belt and Road Initiative.