China's exporters upbeat about 2014

Survey of traders shows two-thirds believe exports will rise next year

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 November, 2013, 4:27am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 November, 2013, 7:14am

Mainland exporters are positive but cautious about the trade outlook next year, with 67 per cent of those surveyed by an online trade portal saying exports will rise but not by more than 20 per cent in the first half of next year.

The survey, conducted by Global Sources, which polled 529 exporters in Guangdong, Zhejiang, Fujian and Jiangsu, found a slight dip in the percentage of respondents who believe trade will grow in the coming months. In the previous survey to gauge the outlook for the second half of this year, 70 per cent of the exporters had said they expected sales to rise.

"There's a lack of a new driver in export trade as the global economy is still recovering very slowly," said Chris Leung Shiu-kay, senior economist at DBS Bank (Hong Kong). "The economic fundamentals remain unchanged."

Leung expects "low-teen" export growth for next year.

Mainland exports grew 5.6 per cent in October, turning around a decline in the previous month.

Nearly 50 per cent of the respondents in the survey said they believed sales would increase between 10 and 20 per cent year on year in the first half of next year while 16 per cent said they anticipate an uptick within 10 per cent.

Linus Yip Sheung-chi, strategist of First Shanghai Securities, forecast export trade will increase at a pace better than expected next year as home prices in the United States continue to rise.

"Recovery in the property market has had a spill-over effect on the job market and consumer confidence in the US recently," he said. "It's just a matter of time when demand from the US rebounds fully."

The US will replace the European Union as the most important market for exporters in the next six months, the survey said. One-third of the exporters said they will target the US while just 25 per cent chose the EU.

Yuan appreciation, meanwhile, has become the biggest concern for exporters, overtaking labour costs. Some 66 per cent of the exporters picked the yuan as the top challenge, followed by rising costs, at 63 per cent, and pricing pressure from buyers, at 62 per cent.

The recent autumn session of the Canton Fair saw an 11 per cent drop in export contract value from the spring session in May, largely because of the continuous strengthening of the yuan and a weakening of the currencies in Southeast Asian countries.