Massive loss of Chinese foreign trade orders to Southeast Asia? Serious decline in orders from Europe and the US?

Mar 14, 2023 | News

Recently, there have been many voices in China about the massive loss of Chinese foreign trade orders to Southeast Asia and the serious decline in orders from Europe and the United States. We may be able to give a clue as to what the specific facts are by comparing the data for the first 2 months of this year recently released by the General Administration of Customs, the import data for the first 2 months of this year released by the US and historical data.

According to customs statistics, in US dollar terms, the total value of China’s imports and exports in the first two months of 2023 was US$895.72 billion, a decline of 8.3 per cent. Of this, exports were US$506.3 billion, a fall of 6.8%; imports were US$389.42 billion, a fall of 10.2%; and the trade surplus was US$116.88 billion, an increase of 6.8%.

Again from the domestic holiday point of view, by this year’s Chinese New Year “early holiday, late start” impact, the data does seem to have fallen, but not very exaggerated, and in a normal range of fluctuations. Of course, for the enterprises that have been in an upward trend, this decline may be a slight impact. Leaving aside the pervasive rise in foreign trade in 2021 and 2022 due to the epidemic factor and the anomalies of early 2020, China’s imports and exports grew by 0.7% year-on-year in the first 2 months of 2019, with exports up 0.1% and imports up 1.5%. It looks like the start of the year is more like the state of affairs in the year before the COVID-19.Then turn to the US import data:

Massive loss of foreign trade orders to Southeast Asia?

The trend of some orders being lost to Southeast Asia or back to the US does exist, and when combined with the data, it is a slow global regional industrial division of labor evolution that has been going on for years, not a trend that has suddenly or dramatically occurred this year or in the last two years. Behind this evolution is also the need for the transformation and upgrading of China’s manufacturing industry and its globalization.

Serious decline in orders from Europe and the US?

The net rumor has it that some foreign trade enterprises claimed that the European and American customers on China’s B2B cross-border e-commerce platform Alibaba International have decreased by two-thirds this year, with only one or two enquiries per day. From the first 2 months of customs data, China’s exports to Europe and the United States did show a downward trend, falling by 5% and 15.2% respectively to the EU and the United States, while imports from the EU and the United States were on the rise. The demand for the next is not pessimistic from the enquiry data on the Ali International Station platform. According to the data, since February, the demand for overseas orders has continued to grow rapidly, especially into the annual peak season of foreign trade in March, the trend is picking up. On the first day of the New Trade Festival in March, the demand from overseas orders on the international station increased by 30% year-on-year. In fact, the combination of high inflation in Europe and the United States, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and trade frictions, a large number of foreign trade enterprises in recent years have shifted the focus of market development from the original Europe and the United States to more diversified markets such as Southeast Asia and the Middle East, some Chinese manufacturing enterprises are also taking the initiative to globalize the industrial layout, which makes the labor-division cooperation between China and these regions strengthened, but also to promote China’s exports to ASEAN and the “Belt and Road” continued to improve.

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