Unexpectedly Intriguing!
09 February 2023

As expected, after having collapsed in November 2022, U.S. imports of goods produced in China shrank again in December 2022. That outcome continues the plunge that began in September 2022.

The net effect of this change has been to pull the trailing twelve month average combined value of goods traded between the U.S. and China below a counterfactual trajectory based on the recovery of trade between the countries after 2008-09 Great Recession. The following chart shows the post-pandemic trade recovery has fallen some $2.7 billion below the alternate trajectory:

Combined Value of U.S. Exports to China and U.S. Imports from China, January 2017 - December 2022

That's the most negative development for this data series since 2020's Coronavirus Pandemic Recession. Unlike that event, this new decline was primarily caused by the Chinese government's zero-COVID lockdowns, which were imposed in October and November.

It wasn't until late-December 2022 that China's government was forced to reverse its lockdown policies in December 2022, with most of its restrictions lifted by early January 2023. That timing means we should see the effects of the Chinese government's policy reversal start to be reflected when January 2023's trade data becomes available next month.


U.S. Census Bureau. Trade in Goods with China. Last updated: 6 February 2023.


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