China’s trade figures for August are out and are surprisingly positive. According to the country’s customs administration, Chinese exports rose 25.6% year-on-year, to £212.6 billion, up from July’s 18.9% growth
Imports also increased 33.1% to £170.5 billion, up from the previous month’s 28.7%. In RMB terms, imports from the UK grew 19.8%, while exports to Britain saw an increase of 18.7% in the first eight months of 2021 compared to the same period last year.
These figures came despite ongoing disruptions caused by the spread of the coronavirus’s delta variant. This recently led to China’s worst coronavirus outbreak, sparking city-wide lockdowns, flight cancellations, and even a week-long shutdown of Ningbo-Zhongshan port, which caused shipping delays that rippled around the world. The outbreak has now been brought under control.
One big beneficiary of this trend is the British food and drink sector. UK F&B exports to China in the first half of 2021 were up by more than 27% compared to the same period in 2020, according to the Food & Drink Exporters Association, with a total value of £436.4 million. The UK’s top food and drink exports include whisky, salmon, and chocolate.
In the first six months of 2021, British food & drink producers sold more to Chinese consumers than to German buyers. This is consistent with overall trends of increased trade with China that show it outstripping Germany to become the UK’s largest single import market.