China’s Foreign Trade volume reached 30.51 trillion yuan in 2018, up 9.7 percent year-on-year, reaching a record high in import and export volume, said Li Kuiwen, spokesperson of the General Administration of Customs (GAC), at a news conference of the State Council Information Office on Jan 14.

Li, also Director General of the Department of Statistics and Analysis of the GAC, said the country is expected to keep its No 1 position in the world in terms of trade in goods.

Exports jumped by 7.1 percent year-on-year to 16.42 trillion yuan in the past year, while imports grew by 12.9 percent to 14.09 trillion yuan, thanks to a number of policies and measures boosting steady foreign trade growth amid profound changes in the external environment, Li added.

The trade surplus in 2018 was 2.33 trillion yuan, shrinking by 18.3 percent, the spokesperson added.

China’s general trade volume reached 17.64 trillion yuan last year, up 12.5 percent on a yearly basis, accounting for 57.8 percent of the country’s total trade volume, up 1.4 percentage points from the same period last year.

China’s imports and exports to the EU, the US and ASEAN countries increased by 7.9, 5.7 and 11.2 percent respectively in 2018, accounting for 41.2 percent of China’s total imports and exports.

The potential for trade cooperation between China and countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative is being continually unleashed, serving as a new engine propelling China’s foreign trade development, Li said. Among such countries, China’s trade volume with Russia, Saudi Arabia and Greece increased by 24 percent, 23.2 percent and 33 percent, respectively.

The trade volume of China’s private enterprises reached 12.1 trillion, an increase of 12.9 percent, accounting for 39.7 percent of China’s total trade volume, a rise of 1.1 percentage points over the same period last year.

The export volume of the private sector, which remained the largest among all market operators, climbed to 7.87 trillion, up 10.4 percent, which comprised 48 percent of the national export volume, up by 1.4 percentage points, according to the spokesperson.

In 2018, the private sector contributed to more than half the growth of national imports and exports, becoming a highlight in China’s foreign trade development, Li said.

China will improve the quality of foreign trade while ensuring its steady growth in 2019, by implementing the decisions of the Central Economic Work Conference, according to the spokesperson.