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商业 - 金融

中国贸易顺差不是人民币之过

Nin-Hai Tseng 2011年07月15日

尽管中国最大的一些海外市场,例如欧洲,仍是步履维艰,但中国的出口仍呈现出恢复性增长态势,即使人民币加速升值也不一定能减缓其出口增长的步伐。

    尽管中国的主要贸易国市场仍存在诸多的问题,然而在6月份,中国备受关注的贸易顺差仍然飙升至223亿美元,创7个月以来的新高。尽管美国高居不下的失业率和欧洲日渐严重的债务问题仍一直困扰着当地消费者,但中国的出口量与去年同期相比仍增长了17.9%。

    这组数据强有力地证明了中国出口所具有的弹性。但这并不一定是个好消息,因为作为世界第二大经济实体,中国正在努力谋求更平衡的增长,将其经济重心从海外转向国内市场。中国政府本周早些时候发布的这组新数据可能导致美国和其他国家藉此向北京施压,要求其进一步加快人民币增值步伐。

    尽管中国的货币在帮助本国向他国出口产品和服务方面功不可没,但是中国6月的贸易顺差却另有其因。

    自2010年6月中国开始允许人民币升值以来,人民币兑美元汇率已经上涨了5.5个百分点。然而这个结果对某些人来说仍是微不足道的。美国财长提姆西•盖特纳早已公开敦促中国加快人民币升值步伐。部分美国立法委员已开始建议国家采取更加严厉的惩罚措施来对付那些人为低估本国货币价值的国家。美国和其他一些国家正逐渐摆脱金融危机的影响,外贸已经成为他们拉动经济增长的救命稻草。有鉴于此,美国国内对人民币的这种态度就不足为奇了。

    但是斟酌一下那些针对人民币的负面评价,我们不禁要问,这个黑锅真的应该由人民币来背吗?

    6月份的贸易顺差还反映出了另一个事实,中国的进口明显放慢了脚步。总进口额达1,397亿美元,增幅19.3%,创20个月以来的增幅新低。原因之一是因为中国政府正通过紧缩货币来遏制食品和资产价格的进一步增长。

    除此之外,进口放缓的另一个原因是投资者对欧洲债务问题的担忧引发了一些商品价格的下跌,全球经济金融分析机构IHS Global Insight的全球经济学总监托德•李评论道。在刚刚过去的三月份,原油、铁矿石等诸多货物价格的快速上涨导致了中国出人意料地爆出了73亿美元的贸易逆差。但是在过去的11周当中,正当希腊经济动荡,濒临债务违约边缘之时,商品价格出现了下滑。6月,由于国际原油价格降低了5个百分点,中国进口原油掉价23亿美元。

    当然,一个月的数据仅够窥豹一斑。但如果我们以年为单位来看这个趋势,我们会发现中国的进出口差额正逐步下滑。

    2008年中国的贸易顺差为2,970亿美元,2009年跌至19,80亿美元,2010年再次缩小至1,850美元。穆迪风险管理咨询(Moody's Analytics)预测,中国今年的顺差将进一步下滑----原因是因为目前贸易顺差已达到450亿美元,而2009年同期为560亿美元。

    尽管美国商务部(U.S. Commerce Department)本周二报道称,美国的贸易逆差已经达到了近两年半以来的新高,但这并不应该成为给中国施压并要求其加速人民币升值的理由。否则美国难免会被扣上虚伪的帽子。华尔街日报(The Wall Street Journal)周一指出,美国出口之所以能取得快速增长,弱势美元帮了大忙。2010年,美国对外出口商品及相关服务共1.3万亿美元,较2002年的6,970亿美元有大幅的增长。也正是在2002年,美元汇价开始了从高位回落的旅程。

    China's closely watched trade surplus swelled to $22.3 billion in June, hitting a seven-month high amid troubles in some of the country's biggest overseas markets. Chinese exports rose 17.9% compared with the same period a year ago even as high unemployment in the U.S. and escalating debt problems in parts of Europe continued constraining consumers.

    The strong numbers underscore the resilience of Chinese exports. But that's not exactly good news as officials try to rebalance growth so that the world's second-largest economy is more reliant on selling goods and services at home than abroad. And the figures, released by China's government earlier this week, could boost pressure on Beijing from the U.S. and other countries to let the yuan appreciate faster.

    Although China's currency has generally helped the country sell goods and services cheaply abroad, June's trade surplus has more to do with factors beyond the yuan's value.

    Since China began to let its currency rise in June 2010, it has strengthened more than 5.5% against the U.S. dollar. The efforts aren't enough for some, however. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has publicly urged China to accelerate appreciation of its currency. And some U.S. lawmakers have suggested more punitive actions to deal with nations believed to be artificially keeping their currencies weak. This isn't all too surprising, given that the U.S. and others recovering from the financial crisis have been counting on exports to grow their economies.

    But for all the bad rap the yuan gets, it's hard not to wonder if it's really deserved.

    June's trade surplus reflects a significant slowdown in Chinese imports, which rose 19.3% to $139.7 billion – the slowest pace in 20 months. This comes as China's government tries to tame steadily rising food and property prices by way of monetary tightening.

    What's more, the slowdown in imports can be attributed to the recent fall of certain commodity prices as investors worry about Europe's debt crisis, says Todd Lee, global economics director with IHS Global Insight. It was just in March when rapidly rising prices for shipments of everything from oil to iron ore helped China unexpectedly post a $7.3 billion trade deficit. But in the past 11 weeks as Greece teetered on the edge of default, commodity prices have dropped. In June, Chinese imports of crude oil fell by $2.3 billion – mostly due to a 5% drop in global oil prices during the month.

    Of course, the monthly statistics only tell part of the story. If we look at the bigger trend on a year-over-year basis, Chinese exports relative to imports have actually been declining.

    China's trade surplus reached $297 billion in 2008, but fell to $198 billion in 2009. It narrowed further in 2010 to $185 billion. Moody's Analytics forecasts the surplus is on track to fall even more this year – pointing that it has reached $45 billion so far, compared with $56 billion over the same period last year.

    And even though the U.S. Commerce Department reported today that the U.S. trade deficit reached its highest level in May in two and a half years, this shouldn't be taken as reason to put further pressure on China to appreciate the yuan at a faster pace. After all, it would be sort of hypocritical. As The Wall Street Journal pointed out Monday, U.S. exports have gained in a big way with a weaker dollar. In 2010, U.S. goods and services sold abroad totaled $1.3 trillion, up significantly from $697 billion in 2002 when the greenback's value began falling from its peak.

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