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ANZ Quick Reaction - China April Trade Data

ANZ Quick Reaction - China April Trade Data

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Published by: Belinda Winkelman on May 08, 2013
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China’s trade growth remained strong in April, following a surge in the past twoquarters. Today’s trade data also defies the weak trade data reported in otherregional economies, suggesting capital inflow imbedded in trade remainsunchecked.
Meanwhile, the port throughput data remained soft for the past few months,suggesting that the real demand has not yet fundamentally recovered. Theinconsistency between port throughput and the headline trade growth showsthat many Chinese exporters could have over-invoiced their trade value to takeadvantage of the interest rate differentials between onshore and offshoremarkets, and the RMB’s steady appreciation since July last year.
China’s FX regulator recently posted a new regulation (effective on 1 June) tocrack down on these speculative capital inflows embedded in trade, which mayhelp China’s trade growth return to its true level.
In our view, the RMB exchange rate should see weakening bias going forward if the ‘hot money’ inflows were under control. We reiterate our view that an overlystrong RMB, especially amid a weak economic recovery and a sharp yendepreciation, is not in China’s interests. If it is the strong RMB that attracts suchspeculative capital inflows, the PBoC will need to de-peg with the USD andreturn to its exchange rate policy back to referencing to a basket of currencies.ADDITIONAL DETAILS
Export growth increased 14.7% y/y in April, compared with market expectations of a9.2% gain and March’s 10.0%.
By destination, exports to the US declined 0.1% y/y, following a 6.5% contraction inMarch. Exports to the EU fell by 6.4% y/y, from -14.0% in the prior month. Exports toHong Kong, ASEAN and Taiwan rose 57.2%, 37.2% and 49.2% respectively.
Imports grew 16.8% y/y in April, following a 14.1% gain in the previous month, andhigher than consensus of a 13.0% gain.
On a volume basis, imports of iron ore grew 16.4% y/y in April, up from 2.7% in March.Imports crude oil increased 3.7% y/y, from -2.1% previously. Soybean and copperimports declined 18.4% y/y and 21.2% y/y, respectively, from -20.5% and -30.8%.Imports from Australia grew 11.1% y/y, compared with 18.4% in March, reflecting loweriron ore prices.
Notably, China’s April trade with the rest of the world gained 12% y/y, while trade withHong Kong surged by 55%, suggesting that the China-Hong Kong-China trade continuedto contribute significantly to China’s trade growth.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, exports rose 7.7% m/m while imports fell 6.6%,respectively.
China registered a trade surplus of USD18.2bn, compared with a deficit of USD0.88bn inMarch. If we exclude Hong Kong, China ran a USD20bn trade deficit with the rest of theworld in April.
In our view, it is clear that the Chinese authorities are fully aware of the risingdiscrepancy between China’s trade growth and Hong Kong’s exports to the rest of theworld. Capital controls regarding inflows are being re-enforced with more stringentregulations. We view this is a necessary policy move and will help us understand betterthe real performance of the trade sector.
We believe the recent measures to tighten regulations on capital inflows, together withallowing the RMB to follow a basket of currencies with possibly enlarging the tradingband, will increase the RMB/USD volatility, and will likely push the RMB to the weak side.
That said, China’s exchange rate policy still faces tremendous challenges. While domesticfinancial repression remains and capital controls have become less and less effective, themacroeconomic policy independence has also been significantly eroded. As large capitalinflows have diminished the effectiveness of monetary policy, the risk of a major assetbubble continues to build, and China’s firms and financial institutions are runningincreasingly larger currency and maturity mismatches. In the current global financialenvironment, we believe the authorities will need to have clear sequencing policy in termsof its domestic and external financial liberalization. The policy priority should focus onaccelerating domestic financial reform via interest rate liberalization, allowing morecompetition, and deepening capital markets, while keeping a tight lid on capital inflows,and rapidly phasing out incentive policies to favor capital inflows at the expenses of capital outflow and encouraging exports at the expense of imports.
Trade GrowthApr 13Mar 13Feb 13Jan 13Dec 12Nov 12Oct 12
Exports, y/y nsa14.710.021.825.214.82.911.6Imports, y/y nsa16.814.1-, m/m sa7.711.8-12.4-8.712.2-3.2-2.3Imports, m/m sa-6.620.20.2-9.39.1-6.62.8
Exports by Country, y/yApr 13Mar 13Feb 13Jan 13Dec 12Nov 12Oct 12
Key Import Commodities (value), y/yApr 13Mar 13Feb 13Jan 13Dec 12Nov 12Oct 12
Crude Oil-9.9-6.0- Ore16.63.5-17.2-2.9-10.7-30.5-32.5Copper-24.5-33.2-38.3-11.8-30.4-16.6-16.6Soybean-10.2-8.1-9.524.633.0-9.427.9
Key Import Commodities (volume), y/yApr 13Mar 13Feb 13Jan 13Dec 12Nov 12Oct 12
Crude Oil3.7-2.1- Ore16.42.7-13.210.510.72.513.0Copper-21.2-30.8-38.5-15.2-33.0-19.2-16.1Soybean-18.4-20.5-
China - Trade Developments
 Trade Balance, $bn (RHS)Exports, y/yImports, y/y
China - Trade with HK vs the Rest of the Word
-40-20020406080100Apr11Jun11Aug11Oct11Dec11Feb12Apr12Jun12Aug12Oct12Dec12Feb13Apr13Trade (Exports+Imports) with ROWTrade (Exports+Imports) with HK
USD/CNY Trading band Fixing
China - CNY Basket Basket Track CNY Spot
China - Import Iron Ore Price 62% Fe
CFR Tianjin Port
China - Iron Ore Inventory at Ports(mn tons)
Iron Ore Inventory
Sources: CEIC, ANZ
Liu Li Gang
| Chief Economist, Greater China |LiGang.Liu@anz.com|
+852 3918 7730
Zhou Hao
| China Economist |Hao.Zhou2@anz.com| +86 21 61696348

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