China's July exports slump 8%

China's July exports slump 8%

China's July exports slump 8%

 Chinese exports tumbled 8.3 per cent in July, their biggest drop in four months and far worse than expected, reinforcing expectations that Beijing will be forced to roll out more stimulus to support the world’s second-largest economy.

Imports also fell heavily from a year earlier, in line with market forecasts but suggesting domestic demand might be too feeble to offset the weaker global demand for China’s exports.

Economists had forecast exports to fall just one per cent, after a 2.8 per cent uptick in June, but the data on Saturday showed depressed demand from Europe and the first drop in exports to the United States, China’s biggest market, since March.

Exports to the European Union fell 12.3 per cent in July while those to the United States dropped 1.3 per cent. Demand from Japan, another big trading partner, slid 13 per cent.

“A recovery in external demand remains far off and economic growth will continue to rely on domestic demand, which implies policies should continue to be relaxed in the second half,” wrote Qu Hongbin, China economist at global bank HSBC.

Imports fell 8.1 per cent, according to the data from the General Administration of Customs. That compared with forecasts for an 8 per cent drop, after a 6.1 per cent decline in June, though these falls also reflected weaker commodity prices.

China recorded a trade surplus of $43.03 billion for the month, below forecasts of $53.25 billion. The July trade data could further dim hopes for an economic turnaround in the second half of this year, after a few signs of stabilization had emerged in June.

China’s factory activity suffered its biggest contraction in two years in July as new orders fell.

On Friday the central bank published a report warning of further economic weakness, but argued the economy needed a retooled growth engine, instead of short-term stimulus.

Economists also blame a strong yuan for the export weakness, with ANZ Research estimating the currency's nominal effective exchange rate has risen by 13.5 percent since June 2014.

Analysts say Beijing has been keeping its yuan strong to wean its economy off low-end export manufacturing.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox