This is the biggest drop in exports to China since February 2020, when the country was virtually at a standstill. They plunged 8.7% over one year, according to Chinese customs, in a context of health restrictions which have weighed on the economy, according to official figures published on Wednesday.
In November, imports fell by 10.6% over one year. This is the strongest collapse since May 2020.
Faced last month with its largest wave of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, even if the figures remain tiny compared to its population, the Asian country has continued its strict health policy. It consists of almost daily screenings for the population, compulsory quarantines for people who test positive or even confinements as soon as cases appear. These measures have logically seized household consumption, supply chains and business demand.
The threat of recession in the United States and Europe, combined with soaring energy prices, has also weakened demand for Chinese products. However, these figures should be put into perspective with regard to the medium-term outlook, because China seems in recent days to be on the way to a change in doctrine concerning Covid-19, with a gradual relaxation of certain restrictions.
Weariness with the zero Covid policy
Since the massive demonstrations at the end of November by Chinese people tired of the excesses of this zero Covid health strategy, several cities have announced the end of large-scale mandatory PCR tests or quarantine for infected people. But travel between provinces remains complicated and the economic recovery could take time to materialize, the relaxation of anti-Covid rules remaining uncertain for the time being.