Concerns about China are everywhere, including the front page of the Wall Street Journal. Exports out of China, or the lack thereof, seem to be of general concern in terms of what this means for China and for the global economy. Let’s take a closer look.
China’s exports to Europe are indeed moving lower; but at $348.994 billion, they are just $7 billion below the February 2012 peak (annual basis). Seven billion is not insignificant, but neither is it cataclysmic or a portent of a full-on China recession. Exports to the US from China are running at record high levels ($344.670 billion). In total, exports do not seem to be a major problem for China. Internal consumption is more the issue, and the hope is that the 2 trillion RMB stimulus package can turn this around in 2013.
The slower domestic activity in China is having only a marginal impact on US exports to China as of the July data. The US has sent a record-high $107.6 billion in goods to China over the last 12 months, which is a 6.6% gain from the year before. The most recent quarter came in 9.5% ahead of the year-ago quarter. Exports may have dried up quickly in August, but those figures have not been released yet. Tough August numbers, if that is the reality, will need to be evaluated in the larger context of July and September before any hard conclusions should be drawn.
Chinese total imports for the last 12 months are a record high $1.160 trillion, up 8.1% from the year before. The last quarter came in 8.23% higher than the year-ago quarter. While the rate of import has certainly slowed, the value of goods imported continues to climb. These means there are still opportunities to sell into China and that China, as the world’s second largest economy, still provides exporters with a good opportunity.