Chinese trade data were below expectations for November. Exports grew by 4.7% instead of the expected 8.2% growth rate. During the same time, imports to China fell by 6.7%. This combination of slow, but still growing exports and lowered imports increased the trade surplus to $54.4 billion, the highest it has been in more than a decade. Yet, these numbers are indicative of continued slowdown in Chinese economic growth.
The “Chinese miracle” is slowing down as exports grow by slower and slower rates. Both the fall in imports and slowing of export growth are partially explained by the recent drop in consumer prices and transportation costs from decreases in global oil and gas prices. But, the drop in imports shows a decrease in consumption by Chinese consumers, a disheartening statistic for planners that seek to move the economy to consumption-based growth.
These slower growth numbers have increased calls for the central government to engage in stimulus measures, ranging from public spending to the lowering of reserve ratios. The hopes of both of these measures would be to stimulate spending by consumers and add money into the economy to further catalyze growth.