Have moved closer together in the Ukraine conflict, also economically: China and Russia
Photo: IMAGO/Russian Foreign Ministry Press S / IMAGO/ITAR-TASS
China's foreign trade fell significantly at the beginning of the year.
As the customs administration in Beijing announced on Tuesday, exports from the world's second largest economy shrank by 6.8 percent in US dollars in January and February compared to the same period last year.
Imports were hit even harder, falling 10.2 percent.
Overall, Chinese foreign trade had already cooled off last year due to the strict corona measures in the country and weaker global demand.
Although Beijing reversed course at the beginning of December and lifted most of the pandemic measures, a violent corona wave then paralyzed the economy.
Chinese exports to US plummet
After overcoming the corona outbreak, economists are now expecting an economic recovery.
While the economy grew by only three percent in 2022, the government issued a growth target of "around five percent" for this year at the current annual meeting of the People's Congress in Beijing.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is even forecasting growth of 5.2 percent.
China's Prime Minister Li Keqiang emphasized at the opening of the People's Congress on Sunday that global inflation will remain high and economic and trade growth around the world is losing momentum.
The premier underscored his government's efforts to attract foreign investment, further integrate China into the global economy and boost trade.
The slump in trade with the USA was particularly severe.
Chinese exports fell 21.8 percent, while imports from the US fell 5 percent.
China also saw its exports to Germany fall by 16.7 percent.
Chinese imports from Germany, on the other hand, fell by only 3.9 percent.
Similarly, trade with the European Union declined.
Chinese exports to the EU fell 12.2 percent, while imports from the EU fell slightly by 5.5 percent.
However, the sharp drop in Chinese imports does not only point to weak domestic demand, but was also explained by experts as lower commodity prices and a strong US dollar.
Despite this mixed picture, foreign trade was described as remaining weak overall, which does not bode well for hoped-for growth this year.
China's trade with Russia, which has been hit by Western sanctions over its war of aggression in Ukraine, rose sharply by 25.9 percent.
Chinese imports, including cheap oil and gas, rose 31.3 percent.
Exports to Russia increased by 19.8 percent.
Since the invasion began a year ago, China has backed Russian President Vladimir Putin.