Imports into China are again set to rise this year after growth rates for container shipments and value of imports outstripped exports in 2012.
Nomura forecasts the value of China’s imports will grow 8.3 percent this year and 10 percent in 2014, more than halving China’s $200+ billion 2012 trade surplus in just two years. Exports, by contrast, will grow just 4.8 percent this year and 6 percent in 2014.
Hamid Haboub, area manager of North Asia at Swiss forwarder Panalpina, predicted eastbound Asia-Europe trade will grow by 4 to 5 percent in 2013, while the westbound trade will at best stagnate. “We see growth on China inbound and Intra Asia trade due to increased consumption of consumer goods in China,” he said. “Spending power and the standard of living in China and the whole of Asia are on the rise.”
Forwarders contacted by JOC cited the rapid development of China’s provinces in the west and the appreciation of the Chinese Yuan as factors which are boosting purchasing power. Henriette Hallberg Thygesen, CEO of Damco North Asia, said government commitment to urbanization would keep consumption growth “resilient” this year, helping drive rising imports.
Any growth in 2013 will follow a firm trend established during 2012. Figures from Seabury show container exports from China grew at just 3.6 percent year-on-year in 2012, while imports increased 6.8 percent, with some of the highest growth rates recorded in northern provinces such as Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei.
Rising consumption of imports is also apparent in southern China at Guangdong, the biggest importer in China by province, and neighboring Fujian and Guangxi, which both saw double-digit year-on-year growth in 2012.
However, although containerized imports are growing quickly, trades to and from China remain seriously unbalanced for container lines. Imports into China totaled 15.9 million 20-foot-equivalent units in 2012, according to Seabury. This compared to exports of 36.9 million TEUs.
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