Beijing steps in to stimulate weak export business

Beijing steps in to stimulate weak export business

HONG KONG — China’s government has never been slow to pile into its markets and even as improving June exports halted a three-month decline, Beijing this week issued a package of support measures for the industry.

These include improving customs clearance efficiency at the country’s busy ports, regulating administrative and service fees for imports and exports, encouraging imports of advanced technology and equipment, key components, and foreign consumer goods with great domestic demand.

The measures were announced by the State Council after data revealed China's foreign trade fell 6.9 percent year-over-year to 11.53 trillion yuan ($1.89 trillion) in the first first half of 2015, growing marginally after a 6-percent decline in the first quarter.

Exports in June grew 2.1 percent year-over-year, with an import decline of 6.7 percent, better than the 18.1 percent drop recorded in May.

Weak demand from outside China, high export costs because of the yuan’s appreciation and tumbling commodity prices all heaped pressure on the export sector. The official exchange rate of the yuan against the U.S. dollar, the euro and the yen strengthened by 0.2 percent, 6.9 percent and 2.2 percent respectively during the past 6 months, Xinhua reported.

In a move that will raise eyebrows in Washington that has long accused China of manipulating its currency, Xinhua reported that the government “stressed it will stabilize the exchange rate of the yuan at a reasonable and balanced level, and facilitate renminbi settlement.”

While trade struggled along in the last three months, China’s National bureau of Statistics data showed China's second-quarter GDP expanded 7 percent year-over-year, unchanged from the first quarter and slightly ahead of market forecasts.

"The economy has shown signs of stabilization and recovery," Wang Baoan, director of the NSB, told the state media agency, citing rosy figures about GDP, employment, inflation, agricultural production and income.

Contact Greg Knowler at and follow him on Twitter: @greg_knowler.