Following two years of declines, China’s foreign trade grew by 14.2% last year, Xinhua reports, citing the General Administration of Customs (GAC).
While GAC spokesperson Huang Songping attributed the growth to external forces, such as the global economy recovery and rising commodity prices, a closer look at the data reveals changes to China’s domestic economy.
Trade growth has become more balanced across the country, with less-developed central and western China benefiting from the Belt and Road Initiative. Central, western and rust belt regions all outpaced the national average.
The BRI has expanded China’s markets, and trade with countries in Latin American and Africa grew by 22% and 17.3%, respectively.
Despite the strong year, moment is likely to wane, with surveys showing falling confidence and new orders in December. Huang was reported as saying that keeping up double-digit growth in 2018 will be a challenge.
Analysts at Nomura say continued global growth may offer support, while possible US protectionism could weigh on exports.