China remains the UK's third largest import source despite coronavirus slump

Thu 16 Apr 2020
Posted by: Ana Pintor
Trade News

China’s exports for March have fallen year-on-year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to data released this week, though the country remains the UK’s third largest source of imports source and its sixth largest export destination.

Data from China’s customs administrations shows a 3.5% fall in exports for March 2020, compared with the same period a year ago. This is an improvement on a 15.9% decline in the January-February period (YoY).

For March, China reported an $18.5bn trade surplus following a $7.1bn deficit for the January and February.

UK-China trade

China’s exports and imports to the UK also dipped during February, according to data from the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC).

There was a 15% YoY drop in exports from the UK to China and imports were down 10%.

Torsten Weller, a policy analyst at the CBBC, told the Daily Update (16 April) this was less than expected.

Despite the dip however, China maintained its position as the UK’s third largest import source and sixth largest export destination.

Weller anticipates China’s share in UK trade will jump in March and April, due to Europe and North America now being in shutdown.

‘Mounting downward pressure’

The lockdown in the West will likely result in a decline in demand for Chinese exports in the short-term future.

Li Kuiwen, a customs spokesperson, told the Financial Times: “Uncertainties are on the rise and China’s foreign trade is encountering bigger difficulties” due to the “mounting downward pressure” on the global economy.

Webinar today at 2pm

The Institute is this afternoon running an Open to Export webinar on what traders can learn from the pandemic so far, featuring speakers from the CBBC and Cambridge Global Payments.

You can sign up to this free webinar here.