ZHONGSHAN, China — This was supposed to be the year that China’s export machine began to stall. President Trump had imposed broad tariffs on Chinese goods. Countries like Japan and France pushed companies to shift production from China. The pandemic had crippled China’s factories by the end of January.
Instead, China Inc. has come roaring back.
After reopening in late February and early March, China’s factories began an export blitz that is still gaining steam. Exports soared in July to their second-highest level ever, nearly matching the record-setting Christmas rush last December. The country has grabbed a much larger share of global markets this summer from other manufacturing nations, entrenching a dominance in trade that could last long after the world begins to recover from the pandemic.
China is showing its export machine cannot be stopped — not by the coronavirus and not by the Trump administration. Its resilience lies not only in the country’s low-cost, skilled labor and efficient infrastructure but also in a state-controlled banking system that has been offering small and large businesses extra loans to cope with the pandemic.
The pandemic has also found China better placed than other exporting nations. It is making what the world’s hospitals and housebound families need right now: personal protection gear, home improvement products and lots of consumer electronics.
At the same time, demand has withered for many big-ticket items exported by the United States and Europe, like Boeing and Airbus jets. And with most economies except China’s now mired in recessions, demand has also faltered for the commodities that most developing countries export, particularly oil.
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