China's green exports further propel foreign trade growth

Updated: May 5, 2023 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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People look at a Hongqi electric vehicle at the Swedish eCarExpo 2023 in Stockholm, Sweden, on Feb. 3, 2023. (Photo by Wei Xuechao/Xinhua)

BEIJING, May 2 (Xinhua) -- In China's pursuit of high-quality and low-carbon development, apparel, home appliances and furniture have given way to three tech-intensive green products as the top drivers of China's foreign trade.

The new "three major ones," namely solar batteries, lithium-ion batteries and electric vehicles, registered a 66.9 percent increase in the first quarter of this year, official data showed. Together they contributed 2 percentage points to the overall export growth, up from 1.7 percentage points for 2022.

"China's foreign trade growth in Q1 is mainly buoyed by new energy-related exports," said Zhou Maohua, an analyst with the China Everbright Bank.

This expansion is even more significant considering it continued whopping growth in 2022 as exports of electric vehicles, photovoltaic (PV) products and lithium-ion batteries hiked 131.8 percent, 67.8 percent and 86.7 percent, respectively.

Customs data also showed that the exports were sent to over 200 countries and regions across the globe in Q1, with their top five markets showing growth rates of over 80 percent. The top five markets were the European Union, the United States, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom.

Global buyers thronged the booths of these products at the 133rd Canton Fair, which opened on April 15 in the southern city of Guangzhou. New-energy vehicles from companies like Dongfeng Liuzhou Motor and SAIC GM Wuling enjoyed new orders and avid inquiries from overseas clients within the first days of the event.

Low-carbon products went on to steal much of the limelight in the second phase of the Canton Fair from April 23 to 27, with some items selling for over 1 million dollars in a single deal, data from the Ministry of Commerce showed.

A symbol of China's improved trade structure and high-quality trade growth, the rising presence of green exports over the past decade also revealed the competitive edge and potential of their respective sectors, analysts say.

China's technological advantage in making quality electric vehicles, lithium-ion batteries and solar batteries, coupled with the growing global demand for low-carbon products, made China an important supplier for many economies, said Hong Yong, an e-commerce expert with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

The quality of Chinese new-energy vehicles (NEVs), for example, has been increasingly praised by foreign buyers, including those from Germany, Japan and Australia, according to an executive of Dongfeng Liuzhou Motor at the Canton Fair.

The expanding production capacity in these sectors has also bolstered exports. Official data showed that in the first two months, total output of lithium-ion batteries jumped 24 percent year on year, while major products of the PV sector logged growth rates of around 60 percent. In March, NEV production surged by 44.8 percent from a year earlier to about 674,000 units.

In the near future, analysts say green exports will remain an engine for high-quality growth, thanks to a nurturing policy environment and continued investment.

China has vowed to consolidate the foundation of self-reliance and strength in science and technology, and to cement and expand the advantages in NEV development, according to a leadership meeting in late April.

The country's investment in high-tech industries continued to outpace overall growth. In Q1, investment in high-tech manufacturing and high-tech service sectors expanded by 15.2 percent and 17.8 percent, respectively, year on year. 

Editor: Li Shimeng