Foreign trade exports are recovering temporarily, and companies need to transform and innovate to enhance competitiveness
“Orders increased in March and April, but there is not much difference from the same period last year.” Many Canton Fair exhibitors told reporters. After nine months of sluggish foreign trade exports, export data rebounded sharply in March. But is this a short-term recovery or is the fundamental trend improving? Opinions vary from the industry to scholars. People from all walks of life are cautiously optimistic about the prospects of my country’s foreign trade development, and hope to improve the competitiveness of enterprises through transformation and innovation.
Industry experts said that the trade method that relied on low cost, low price, and low end to participate in the international division of labor in the past 35 years has ended. Under the new normal, we must rely on international competitiveness, talent, marketing, brand, quality, efficiency, etc. to participate in the international division of labor.
But experts believe that transformation cannot be concentrated in the high-end market. China’s biggest advantage is that we have sufficient diversified production capabilities. Companies should target different markets based on their own advantages.
Exports “rebounded” in March
On April 13, data from the General Administration of Customs showed that after nine months of negative growth, the total export value in March reached 1.05 trillion yuan in RMB, a year-on-year increase of 18.7% (over the same period last year); The total import value was 855.5 billion yuan, a year-on-year decrease of 1.7%. The decline narrowed compared with last month and was far better than market expectations.
Many opinions believe that the rebound in export data in March means that my country’s foreign trade situation has begun to pick up, and they say that these signs may be reflected in the spring Canton Fair. However, if the factors of the long Spring Festival holiday are excluded, this data may not be so optimistic.
According to data from the General Administration of Customs, after seasonal adjustment, export growth in March was only 0.9%. After excluding factors such as exchange rates, March export data may still be negative growth.
Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Shen Danyang said at the regular meeting of the Ministry of Commerce on the 12th that exports rebounded significantly in March, one due to seasonal factors and the other to base factors. The seasonal factor means that due to the Spring Festival in February, exports will either rush forward or be pushed back. The base factor refers to the fact that the monthly export volume in March last year was the lowest among all months of the year. Therefore, although exports in March this year increased by 18.7% year-on-year, “the export scale is only about 1 trillion yuan, and the figures are not ideal.” Shen Danyang emphasized, “Further investigation and analysis show that the foreign trade situation throughout the year is still complex, severe and not optimistic.”
Zhuang Rui, deputy dean of the School of International Economics at the University of International Business and Economics, told reporters: “Monthly data will be affected by certain factors, such as cyclical changes, previous bases, etc., so monthly data cannot be used to refer to annual data. Exports in March The data is a good sign, but it cannot fundamentally say that the trend of foreign trade is improving.”
The reporter interviewed many Canton Fair exhibitors and they all said that the order volume in March and April has rebounded, but it has only remained stable compared with the same period last year and there has been no significant growth. The signs that foreign trade is beginning to pick up do not seem to be confirmed from the corporate side.
When Zhong Shan, the international trade negotiator and vice minister of the Ministry of Commerce, visited enterprises at the Canton Fair, he repeatedly asked what difficulties the enterprises had in operating? Are they confident about the foreign trade situation in the second half of the year? Zhong Shan pointed out that since this year, the foreign trade situation has become more and more serious. The situation is complex and severe, uncertain and unstable factors are increasing, and downward pressure is still great.
The government’s emphasis may be a reflection of the still pessimistic foreign trade situation.
“The government is more powerful than ever in helping enterprises.” Huo Rongquan, vice chairman of Mona Lisa Group Co., Ltd., said in an interview with reporters.
Internal and external troubles
China’s exports cover a wide range of areas, including developed economies such as Europe and the United States, as well as emerging economies. Some people believe that the U.S. economic recovery will be beneficial to my country’s exports. However, industry experts believe that global demand remains sluggish due to factors such as the rise of global trade protectionism, exclusive regionalization, and factors such as politics and war in some emerging economies. At the same time, rising domestic labor costs and increasingly fierce industry competition have also brought multiple burdens to enterprises.
China’s foreign trade recovery is struggling amid “domestic and foreign troubles”.
“Labor costs account for more than 20% of our profits, and we can’t afford to use people.” A person in charge of a Ningbo home appliance company told reporters, “Wages are rising year by year, and pensions, medical insurance and other insurances must be provided to workers. Buying it, this part is a heavy burden.”
There are many business owners who hold the same view. Among the nearly 30 companies interviewed by reporters at the Canton Fair, more than half expressed the pressure of rising labor costs. Not only that, except for some large companies that have begun to use machines to replace people, most companies are more or less faced with the problem of recruiting workers.
Zhuang Rui said that my country’s foreign trade is in a transition period of optimization and upgrading. Old advantages such as demographic dividend are being lost, and new advantages have not yet been cultivated. At this time, companies are more sad.
Zhang Yansheng, secretary-general of the Academic Committee of the National Development and Reform Commission, said in an interview: “China’s economy is moving towards a new normal. In the past 35 years, the proportion of processing trade has dropped from 55% in 2005 to 35% last year. The next step will be Continue to decline. 20 points in ten years, structural��Investment. Despite pressures such as rising labor costs and sluggish external demand, some companies have successfully transformed from OEM to independent brands, developing independent brands in different markets and increasing technology research and development.
However, a large number of small and medium-sized enterprises that rely on the OEM model and lack innovation and R&D capabilities have still not found a way out.
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