Weighed down by rising salaries, shrinking demand and competition from other emerging economies, China has begun to reorient its exports toward quality and technology rather than cheap products, state news agency Xinhua reported Monday.

The official data showed that China’s exports and imports in April fell more than expected, underlining weak demand at home and abroad.

Experts agreed that a quick rebound in China’s foreign trade seems unlikely.

Not waiting for things to turn around, China’s exporters are looking at an alternative plan, experts told Xinhua. This “plan B” involves manufacturing high-tech and innovative products to replace labor-intensive products, according to an article in Monday’s People’s Daily.

In addition, China is implementing supply-side structural reform to reduce ineffective supply chains and improve supply quality as a way to battle excess capacity and economic headwinds.

“There is no harm in export-oriented enterprises thinking more about practicing supply-side reform,” Li Guanghui, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation (CAITEC) told Xinhua.  “A rebound in exports propped up by subsidies and policy support cannot be sustainable, so China had better abandon its growth-rate obsession and channel more energy into improving quality.”

The State Council announced early this month that the government will encourage homegrown companies to invest more in brand building, promote e-commerce and other new trade models, and transfer processing factories to central and western regions with lower labor costs.

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