China’s June trade falls in new sign economy is fading

China’s June trade falls in new sign economy is fading
A ship is docked at a container port in Qingdao in eastern China's Shandong province on July 8, 2013. Photo: AP
June exports fell 3.1% year-on-year in sign growth might be cooling even more sharply than expected
Published: 12:49 PM, July 10, 2013
Updated: 7:10 AM, July 11, 2013
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BEIJING — China’s trade declined abruptly in June in a sign growth in the world’s second-largest economy might be cooling even more sharply than expected.

Exports fell by 3.1 per cent compared with a year earlier and imports contracted by 0.7 per cent, customs data showed today (July 10). Both were below forecasts of growth in the low single digits.

China’s economic growth has slowed this year and is expected to fall further due to weak global demand and an effort by the Chinese central bank to cool a credit boom.

“The export sector is faring very badly. It does suggest overall growth momentum is going to be weaker than we initially expected,” said Societe General economist Wei Yao.

New communist leaders who took power last year say they want to pursue slower, more self-sustaining growth based on domestic consumption, reducing reliance on trade and investment. But some analysts say the latest slowdown might be so deep they could be forced to temporarily reverse course and boost lending or government spending to stimulate growth.

A decline in Chinese economic activity could have global repercussions, denting revenues for suppliers of commodities and industrial components such as Australia, Brazil and Southeast Asia. Lower Chinese demand already has depressed global prices for iron ore, copper and other raw materials, cooling an economic boom for exporters.

The ruling party’s growth target this year is 7.5 per cent, down by almost half from 2007’s staggering growth rate of 14.2 per cent. Some analysts have suggested growth might dip below 7 per cent in coming months — dangerously low by Chinese standards.

Some private sector forecasters cut their growth outlook for the year, though to still robust levels above 7 per cent, after a credit crunch hit China’s financial markets last month. That came as the central bank tried to rein in a lending boom regulators worry could spiral out of control.

“The most likely outcome, in our view, is the Chinese economy going through a period of sluggish growth and adjustment,” said UBS economist Tao Wang in a report this week.

Communist leaders have promised to promote private businesses that generate most of China’s new jobs and wealth but have yet to make major changes.

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