China’s exports drop as crude oil imports hit record highs

Imports of crude oil increased last year by 11 percent
China’s exports drop as crude oil imports hit record highs
The value of Beijing's exports of goods amounted to about $3.4 trillion

Despite economic headwinds, China’s imports of crude oil hit record highs in 2023 as demand for fuel recovered following the decline caused by COVID-19. Data from China’s General Administration of Customs revealed that China’s imports of crude oil increased by 11 percent last year reaching 563.99 million tons. That is equivalent to 11.28 million barrels per day, an increase from the previous record level recorded in 2020 of 10.81 million barrels per day.

Meanwhile, total imports in December reached 48.36 million tons or 11.39 million barrels per day. That is a significant increase compared to 10.33 million barrels per day in November.

Factors influencing increase

Domestic passenger transport levels have increased steadily throughout 2023 after the country lifted pandemic restrictions in November 2022. Meanwhile, China’s highway traffic increased by 43.6 percent from January to November 2023 compared to 2022, according to data from the Ministry of Transport.

Data published today, Friday, showed that China’s natural gas imports, which include liquefied natural gas and pipeline gas, rose 9.9 percent to 119.97 million tons in 2023. These amounts represent the second-highest level recorded since 2021 when China imported 121.4 million tons.

Moreover, December imports of 12.65 million tons hit a historic monthly high, up from 10.95 million tons in November. That is to meet the strong demand for heating amid colder-than-usual weather. Additionally, increased pipeline gas supplies from Russia also helped boost imports.

China’s exports

The data also revealed that last year, China exported a total of 62.69 million metric tons of refined fuel products. This includes diesel, jet fuel, gasoline, and marine fuel, up 16.7 percent compared to 2022.

December exports of refined fuel products, which include diesel, jet fuel, gasoline, and marine fuel, amounting to 4.64 million tons recorded their lowest levels since last June, due to companies running out of export quotas.

Meanwhile, the value of Beijing’s exports of goods amounted to about $3.4 trillion last year, a decrease of 4.6 percent compared to 2022.

Read: Red Sea turmoil pushes shipping costs up by 250 percent

China’s imports

On the other hand, imports in 2023 fell by 5.5 percent, resulting in a surplus of $823 billion. However, China is facing increasing pressure on trade, with many major trading partners experiencing an economic slowdown, negatively impacting exports.

Moreover, the real estate sector remains vulnerable and fears of contraction are growing, prompting economists to call for more political support from the government.

The Chinese economy is experiencing ongoing contraction, as the prices of goods and services continue to fall. This negatively affects the value of Chinese exports and makes them cheaper for foreign consumers. Hence, the export price index in October reached its lowest level since 2006.

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