China just released its December trade data, which allows an insight into some interesting trends, and of course a look at the full-year and quarterly data. For the month of December China saw exports reach $154.2 billion and imports grow further to a record $141.1 billion. On an annual basis China saw exports reach $1,578.5 billion for the year of 2010 (up 31% vs 2009), and imports at $1,393.9 billion (up 39% vs 2009).
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So, really, 2010 was a pretty good year as far as China was concerned on the trade front, both exports and imports made a strong recovery from 2009 and even made ground on 2008 (exports up 10% vs 2008, imports up 23%). Probably the most interesting bit was the pace at which imports grew, and sure some of it was from higher commodity prices, but a lot of it is also just raw growth in import spending.
It was a similar pattern on a quarterly basis, with exports and imports both up vs Q3 (about 3% and 4% respectively), and vs Q4 2009 (about 25% and 29% respectively). So the overall message is a strong recovery in trade volumes, and with imports growing faster than exports. The trend of imports growing faster than exports is a good theme for pretty much everyone. It is potentially the beginning of China starting to pull its weight even more in stoking the global economy, but to be sure this is yet a long road in the transformation and evolution of the Chinese economy.
Econ Grapher Analytics