According to the statistics of Ningbo Customs Office in Cixi, the total trade of the city (including Cixi Export Processing Zone) with foreign countries in 2017 was RMB 75.45 billion, up 16.6% from previous year. More specifically, exports and imports accounted for RMB 65.88 billion and RMB 9.57 billion, up 13.8% and 39.8% respectively from previous year.
Last year, Cixi contributed 9.9% to the total imports and exports of Ningbo, ranking third after Yinzhou and the Development Zone. Its exports accounted for 13.2% of the Ningbo total, with imports accounting for 3.7%.
Booming trade with economic recovery
In 2017, Cixi’s total foreign trade steadily increased with a "V"-shaped growth curve, achieving 15.4 billion yuan, 19.2 billion yuan, 21.04 billion yuan and 19.82 billion yuan respectively in the four quarters, up by 19.6%, 16.1%, 14.1% and 17.6%. Cixi's exports last year showed a volatile growth, peaking in August at 6.54 billion yuan. Imports grew with increasing rapidity during the year: in the first half of the year, imports of Ningbo increased by 28.7% on average from previous year; then in the third and fourth quarters, growth in imports rose significantly, reaching 64.1% and 58.4% year-on-year respectively, and driving the city’s annual increase in import to 39.8% which was 2.5 % higher than that of Ningbo.
Benefiting from the steady economic recovery and increasingly frequent economic and trade exchanges worldwide, in 2017, the city's exports to its top ten export markets—the EU, the United States, the ASEAN, Japan, India, South Korea, Russia, Australia, Brazil and Mexico—all maintained varying degrees of growth. More specifically, exports to the EU, the United States and the ASEAN reached 21.54 billion yuan, 13.88 billion yuan and 4.1 billion yuan, up 13.7%, 16.1% and 11.9% respectively from previous year and accounting for 60% of the city’s total exports combined. In 2017, Cixi also saw delightful achievement in export to the "Belt and Road" countries. In particular, its exports to Slovakia, Russia, Vietnam and Pakistan climbed rapidly by 54.1%, 39.5%, 38.4% and 32.2% respectively.
Mechanical and electrical products still firmly occupy the majority of the city's exports. In 2017, Cixi exported 53.05 billion yuan of electrical and mechanical products, up 15.3% from previous year and accounting for 80.5% of the total exports. The top three exported goods in this category were bearings, household appliances & lamps, and lighting fixtures & spare parts which were 3.9 billion yuan, 3.89 billion yuan and 3.07 billion yuan with an increase of 17.8%, 16.2% and 4.2% respectively.
In 2017, Cixi's total imports from its top ten import market—Japan, the European Union, the ASEAN, South Korea, the United States, Australia, Chile, the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu, South Africa, and Congo—showed a general uptrend. Imports from the top three were 1.73 billion yuan, 1.72 billion yuan and 1.44 billion yuan respectively, up 22.7%, 56% and 43.1% from previous year; combined they constitute 51.1% of the total imports of the city. Thanks to the China-Australia Free Trade Area Agreement, imports from Australia increased by 2.8 times from previous year. Waste plastics, plastics in primary forms and electric & mechanical products, the three major imports of Cixi, accounted for 1.69 billion yuan, 1.44 billion yuan and 1.32 billion yuan, up 0.17%, 27.6% and 16.9% respectively.
Highlights aplenty in foreign trade
In the context of global economic recovery, the continuous growth of Cixi's foreign trade is mainly due to its adherence to the supply-side structural reform. Export enterprises accelerated their expansion of business in emerging markets, and actively sought for new trade opportunities. As a result, their market shares constantly increased and new highlights in foreign trade continued to appear.
Since last year, the city has been actively implementing the national policies of supply-side structural reform and scientific development; it is constantly adjusting its industrial structure, increasing investment in scientific research, and accelerating the shift from "made in Cixi" to "Created in Cixi". Take electric iron, the city's traditional industry, for example. There are currently 24 Cixi iron manufacturers that have established their own laboratories, of which five were accredited by well-known foreign certification bodies.
As the traditional markets become increasingly saturated, besides continuing to consolidate the hold to the traditional markets, exploring new development space is a major solution for Cixi's enterprises to increase their market share. By fully tapping into the " Belt and Road" initiative, free trade agreements and other favorable policies, Cixi enterprises are also adopting flexible management strategies to develop marketable products according to local conditions and thus constantly improving their market competitiveness.
As a nascent industry in the field of foreign trade, cross-border e-commerce showed strong growth and its internal ecosystem is continuously improving. Currently, Cixi Export Processing Zone owns the nation’s first Cainiao super warehouse, which stores more than 6,500 kinds of imported products such as luxury goods, liquor, household appliances and fresh food. Last year, the zone checked and released a total of 8,963,900 manifests with a total value of 1.46 billion yuan, increasing 29.9 times over previous year. While cross-border imports grew rapidly, cross-border exports also made great progress. In 2017, a total of 31 enterprises in Cixi engaged in cross-border export, an increase of 16 over the previous year; their combined exports reached 960 million yuan.
Advance while avoiding risks
Insiders pointed out that although the city's foreign trade data in 2012 were quiet rosy, there were still many problems and difficulties: global trade protectionism is escalating; competition in manufacturing is intensifying; the pressure of RMB appreciation and other international economic and trade uncertainties are growing; with advanced technologies still in their infancy, how to speed up industrial transformation and upgrading, improve business research capabilities and enhance competitiveness in foreign trade is a major problem confronting the city; the waste import ban delivered a hard punch to the Cixi’s recycling industry, even affecting its employment and foreign trade; and import tariffs on consumer goods have been lowered multiple times, urging cross-border e-commerce suppliers to enhance their competitiveness.
To address these problems and difficulties, relevant departments of Cixi need to pay close attention to the global economic trend, so that it can find solutions together with enterprises, helping them to prepare against risks and improve profits.
Export companies should speed up industrial transformation and upgrading, continue to seek for market expansion, and actively adapt to the new domestic and international economic background. They should also accelerate the transformation of their development modes, optimize their economic structure and promote intelligent manufacturing. The city needs to stress the exemplary role of leading enterprises and encourage independent innovation of companies to enhance their vitality and competitiveness. It also should make full use of the cross-border e-commerce and favorable policies to expand the import of food and daily necessities and increase product diversity. Through guiding and supporting the development of the import market, the city can help firms enhance services as well as consumer trust and satisfaction, ultimately increasing their market share.