US, EU difficulties dampen China's exports

An Expert's View about Major Exports in China

Last updated: 27 Jun 2012

Q3 numbers still show growth, albeit not at the usual robust pace. High-value products will sustain business in coming months.

China’s exports are showing signs of a slowdown amid economic uncertainties in the US and Europe, although business is still on a growth track. The two areas are traditionally the largest overseas destinations for products manufactured in the country.

In the nine months ending September 2011, revenue from international shipments totaled nearly $1.4 trillion, up about 23 percent YoY. While still robust, growth is actually 13 percentage points lower compared with 2010. Volume climbed at an incommensurate 12 percent, indicating that high prices are helping to pull up value. The average export value increased 10 percent.

Suppliers of household electrical appliances said exportwise, growth in the industry this year is 20 to 30 percent slower. “So far, international business has underperformed, rising only 5 percent,” said Jacky Chan, marketing director for Chinabest Home Appliance Co. Ltd. “Shipments last year surged 50 to 60 percent.”

Estimates from the China National Furniture Association show a 30 to 40 percent drop in business from the EU. “This year, some makers in Dongguan, Guangdong province, did not accept orders in October, which is usually the start of the peak season,” said spokesman Zhu Chang Ling. “Given the current business climate, companies felt the orders, had these been accommodated, would not have generated profit.”

To sustain business in the face of these challenging economic and financial conditions, China exporters are reducing dependence on the US and the EU and strengthening presence in emerging markets. This is illustrated in Global Sources’ recent survey. Customs statistics also say as much, with shipments to the latter already growing at a faster pace than the first two.

Business to South Korea, Brazil, Russia and other nontraditional destinations posted gains of 25 to 35 percent in the first three quarters of 2011. In contrast, exports to the US and the EU climbed approximately just 15 and 17 percent, respectively.

China’s shipments of 3D TVs to emerging markets will grow 6 percent in 2012, spurred by the technology’s rise in popularity, according to Bai Wei Min. Bai is vice president and secretary general of the China Video Industry Association.

Overall exports in the line during the period are forecast to surge more than 30 percent.

Tabletop stove supplier Chinabest will focus on Russia in coming months, expecting the strategy to pay off through 10 percent growth in exports.

Q4 estimates

Projections are pointing to even slower growth in exports in the last quarter of 2011, although overseas business will continue to outpace imports as a whole. Trade surplus in 2011 will likely reach $170 billion, closely mirroring 2010 figures, according to the imports and exports monitoring and warning system of the General Administration of Customs.

Outbound shipments are expected to grow 18 percent to hit nearly $1.9 trillion. Goods coming into China are estimated at about $1.7 trillion, up 21 percent.

Certain high-value product lines are likely to drive exports in the months ahead. The rising popularity of 3G smartphones will boost the mobile handsets industry, with makers of the former predicting shipments to jump 50 to 100 percent. The expanding market is also attracting GSM phone manufacturers to the line.

Strong demand for the iPhone is trickling down to related segments, spurring business for suppliers of peripherals such as Shenzhen Hali-power Industrial Co. Ltd. The maker expects export sales to stay at current levels or increase slightly by year-end although orders from the EU have declined by 10 percent.

Firefly Lighting Co. Ltd, a supplier of energy-saving fixtures, including CFLs and LED bulbs, is optimistic outbound shipments this quarter will jump 20 percent. “Demand from the EU, while slowing, is still higher than orders from emerging markets,” said sales manager Zheng Nowky.

Read the full report on US, EU difficulties dampen China's exports. Global Sources is a leading B2B portal and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines and trade shows.


Posted: 20 December 2011, last updated 27 June 2012

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