A shipping port in China. Photo: Xinhua

China’s foreign trade volume fell 6.4% year on year to 6.57 trillion yuan (US$933 billion) in the first quarter of this year, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Total exports fell 11.4% to 3.33 trillion yuan, while imports were down by 0.7% to 3.24 trillion yuan during the period. The trade surplus slumped 80.6% to 98.33 billion yuan, the China News Agency reported.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries surpassed the European Union (EU) to become China’s largest trading partner in the first quarter.

China’s trade with the ASEAN countries grew 6.1% year-on-year to 991.34 billion yuan during the first quarter, while trade with the EU fell 10.4% to 875.93 billion yuan. China’s trade with the United States decreased 18.3% to 668.01 billion yuan, while trade with Japan dropped 8.1% to 465.68 billion yuan.

Electronics and labor-intensive manufacturing goods remained the core of China’s exports in the first quarter. The country’s exports of electronic products fell 11.5% to 1.95 trillion yuan, accounting for 58.5% of total exports. Labor-intensive manufacturing goods such as textile products dropped 15.3% to 596.98 billion yuan, accounting for 17.9% of total exports. 

In March, China’s foreign trade decreased 0.8% year-on-year, showing a significant improvement from February, said Chinese customs spokesman Li Kuiwen. China’s exports dipped 3.5% to 1.29 trillion yuan while imports climbed 2.4% to 1.16 trillion yuan for the period.

Jiangxi province

The State Council has approved the establishment of an open economy pilot zone in eastern China’s Jiangxi province, according to a development blueprint released by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

The construction of the pilot zone will adhere to new development concepts, promote high-quality development and focus on supply-side structural reform.

It will actively integrate into the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, participate in the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, and coordinate with the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta.

The pilot zone will promote the free flow of resources, accelerate the establishment of an open market and explore a new development path that advances reform, development and innovation through opening up.

Vaccine trials

Wuhan Institute of Biological Products Co Ltd, a unit of China National Pharmaceutical Group, recently gained approval from the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) to run clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine.

This is the world’s first inactivated coronavirus vaccine to obtain clinical trial approval, according to a statement issued by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council.

Clinical trials have commenced simultaneously. The country has prepared to use the vaccine on patients for emergency situations based on its national laws and regulations.

New energy vehicles

State Grid Corp of China, a state-owned company, said it will build 78,000 charging piles for new energy vehicles (NEV) in 24 provinces and cities for 2.7 billion yuan within the coming few years. 

The new charging piles will be located in municipals including Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai and provinces including Hebei, Jiangsu, Hunan and Qinghai. The company said the new facilities will lead to NEV sales of more than 20 billion yuan. 

Prior to this, China Southern Power Grid, another state-owned grid company, said it will build 150 charging stations and 380,000 charging piles in the country for 25.1 billion yuan within the next four years. After completion, the number of the company’s charging piles will increase 10 times from the current level.

The new investments in charging piles will significantly increase the capacity of the NEV sector and speed up the sector’s growth, according to a research report by Industrial Securities.

Company news

BYD Co Ltd, a Shenzhen-based NEV maker, said its net profit could have declined between 79.99% and 93.33% in the first quarter from the same period of last year. Net profit during the quarter would be between 50 million yuan and 150 million yuan.

The decline was due to a sharp fall in NEV sales amid the Covid-19 epidemic, according to the company’s filing to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. The company said earlier this month that its first-quarter sales volume fell 69.7% to 22,192 units from 73,172 units a year ago.

According to the corporate information website Tianyancha.com, Ren Zhengfei, the chief executive of Huawei Technologies, resigned as executive director of Shanghai Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, which is Huawei’s wholly-owned unit, on April 10.

Sun Yafang, a former Huawei President, also stepped down as the Shanghai branch’s legal representative and chairman. She has been replaced by Tian Xingpu, the head of Huawei’s research institute in Beijing. 

Shanghai Huawei Technologies was established in January 2001 with a registered capital of 200 million yuan. It engages in both software and hardware businesses related to telecommunication equipment.

The story was written by Xu Jiangshan and Wang Xiaohan and first published at ATimesCN.com. It was translated into English by Nadeem Xu.