In the first quarter of 2011, China posted a trade deficit, something it has not done since 2004. In Q1, the nation imported $1.02 billion more than it exported.
According to Reuters, the General Administration of Customs reported the change, as well as a small trade surplus for the single month of March. It logged a surplus of $140 million, but that was in the wake of a deficit for February of $7.3 billion.
March’s exports were up some 35.8% from the previous year, and imports rose 27.3% from the previous year. Economists were expecting that the YOY figure for exports would be 21% and for imports 19.5%, with an expected deficit of $4.2 billion.
While some of the deficit can be chalked up to the normally slow first part of the year for China’s economy, the change also reflects the strenuous efforts Beijing has made to stem its burgeoning economy and the rise of inflation. But it also reflects the fact that China is already the world’s largest export economy and as such has far more room to grow in its demand for imports.