China discloses Q1 plunge in foreign trade

Decrease seen across imports and exports while price of daily necessities remains stable

China to speed up recovery of its economy despite huge loss in Q1

China to speed up recovery of its economy despite huge loss in Q1 (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — China's Ministry of Commerce announced a double-digit downturn of the country's foreign trade in January and February in the wake of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).

Within two months, the total value of foreign trade declined by 9.6 percent to RMB$4.12 trillion (US$588.2 billion); trade with the U.S., the E.U., and Japan decreased by 19.6, 14.2, and 15.3 percent, respectively.

The export of labor-intensive products shrank 18.8 percent, and products of the processing trade — business activities involving the import of raw materials and export of finished products — fell 16.4 percent.

However, despite the many challenges, exports to Southeast Asian and Belt and Road Initiative countries increased by 51.8 percent.

Major foreign corporations have recovered or are close to full operation in most Chinese cities, including Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang, according to the ministry.

A survey of hundreds of food wholesalers has shown increased stability in the prices of daily necessities. Since March 11, the food supply in the locked-down city of Wuhan has seen a vast replenishment compared to in January, when prices surged amid panic buying.

Since Jan. 23, more than 55,000 tons of daily necessities have been delivered to Hubei province, where Wuhan is located.

Even with signs of an economic recovery on the horizon, the coronavirus dragged down the first-quarter growth of China's gross domestic product (GDP) to as low as 2.4 or even zero percent, according to estimates.