Why China’s Export Slide Isn’t As Bad As It Looks

November 9, 2015, 4:34 PM UTC
World's Largest Container Ship The CSCL Globe Docks At Felixstowe Port
Freight containers sit on the deck of the world's largest container ship, the CSCL Globe, operated by China Shipping Container Lines Co., as it prepares to dock at the Port of Felixstowe, a subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., in Felixstowe, U.K., on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. The inflation rate in the euro area fell below zero for the first time in more than five years, bolstering the case for more European Central Bank stimulus. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Simon Dawson — Bloomberg/Getty Images

China’s trade data released yesterday looks ugly—a 6.9% year-over-year decline in exports in October from a 3.7% fall in September.

Since China supplies the world, the data weren’t promising for global growth.

But a closer look shows that an almost year-long recovery in Chinese exports isn’t stopping—in fact it is continuing, albeit slowly.

The 6.9% year-over-year export decline is being compared to 2014 trade data, which spiked near the end of the year. In that context, while the slow recovery in exports this year isn’t wildly encouraging, it doesn’t appear as dire as China’s latest trade figure suggests either.


Here’s another chart of the tough comparison exports have to late 2014 numbers.