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-- First Monthly Deficit in 13 months
By Flora Guo
     BEIJING (MNI) - China's General Administration of Customs announced the
latest trade statistics on Friday. Below are five things we learnt from the
release:
     - Exports shocked the market consensus by slumping -2.7% y/y, compared with
MNI's survey of 10.0% growth - this marks the first decrease in 15 months since
December 2016. On a monthly basis, exports fell 14.9% , compared with 14.4% fall
in February, after the seasonal adjustment. Exports growth for the first quarter
rose to 14.1% year-over-year to $174.12 billion. 
     - The trade balance recorded its first deficit in 13 months at USD4.98
billion, much lower than February's USD33.7 billon and MNI survey median of
USD27.0 billion. Deficits tend to be recorded in February or March every year
due to Chinese New Year.
     - Imports growth climbed to 14.4% y/y from a year earlier to USD 179.10
billion, which was close to MNI survey expectations of 12.0% growth. The faster
pace has consolidated the solid momentum of imports in the first quarter, which
increased by 18.9% to USD496.88 billion
     - Trade with China's top three partners -- the EU, the U.S., ASEAN, all
increased in Q1, by 14.9%, 13.0%, 20.9% respectively. While overall exports grew
strongly in the quarter, they increased even faster in some B&R (the Belt and
Road Initiative) countries like Russia, Poland and Kazakhstan, all with the
overwhelming growth at 20.5%, 16.6% and 16.2%.
     - Imports of crude oil, soybeans and automobiles increased in the first
three months, according to China Customs statistics. Crude oil imports rose 7.0%
year-on-year to 112.07 million ton in Q1, compared with 104.73 million in Q1
2017. Soybeans imports rose by 0.2% y/y to 19.57 million ton in Q1, and
automobiles imports rose by 5.75 from a year earlier to 280,000 sets
--MNI Beijing Bureau; tel: +86 (10) 8532-5998; email: flora.guo@marketnews.com
--MNI Singapore Bureau; +65 8233 2326; email: Asia-Editor@marketnews.com
[TOPICS: M$A$$$,M$Q$$$,MC$$$$,MI$$$$]

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