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China's current-account balance 1982-2014

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Current-account balance

(US$ bn)

1982

5.7

1983

4.2

1984

2.0

1985

-11.4

1986

-7.0

1987

0.3

1988

-3.8

1989

-4.3

1990

12.0

1991

13.3

1992

6.4

1993

-11.6

1994

6.9

1995

1.6

1996

7.2

1997

29.7

1998

29.3

1999

21.1

2000

20.5

2001

17.4

2002

35.4

2003

43.1

2004

68.9

2005

132.4

2006

231.8

2007

353.2

2008

420.6

 2009

243.3

2010

237.8

2011

136.1

2012

215.4

2013

182.8

2014

213.7

More surpluses than deficits
1982 First full current-account figures published. Small current-account surplus reflects the surplus on merchandise trade.


1985-86 Current-account deficit produced by the trade deficit resulting from the initial surge in foreign direct investment (FDI), although this is tiny by comparison with FDI inflows after 1991.

1990-91 A huge cutback in government spending and bans on imports of items such as official cars helped to slash imports and push the current-account balance back into surplus.


1993 The sharp rise in FDI starting in 1992 pulled in large quantities of foreign equipment, causing a lapse into trade and current-account deficits in 1993.

1997-98 Slack home demand coupled with impressive export growth ensured that the current-account surplus was about US$30bn.

Although imports surged following China's accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2001, exports grew faster, causing accelerating growth in the trade surplus in the 2000s.

In 2007, exports of goods reached USD1,220 billion while imports rose to USD 904.1 billion, leaving a record merchandise trade surplus of USD315.9 billion. At the same time, services imports exceeded services exports by USD7.9 billion. The resulting current-account surplus of USD353.2 billion partly explains the massive rise in China's foreign exchange reserves in 2007.

In 2008, the current-account balance ballooned even further to USD420.6 billion before slumping to USD243.3 billion in 2009 as a result of the global crisis and stagnating thereafter as external demand has remained weak.

Source: State Administration of Foreign Exchange of the People's Republic of China.

Latest update: 12 March 2015.