Chinese 'Fake' Trade Data Remains "A Bit Of A Mystery" Despite Clean-Up Efforts

Over a year ago we first brought China's 'fake' trade data and abundant discrepancies to the public's attention and in December China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) began clamping down on trade-financing on fabricated deals after the first crackdown failed to eliminate the deception. Now over a year later, as Bloomberg reports, China's data still does not add up. "It's still a bit of a mystery," said StanChart's Stephen Green, the data "suggest that some of that is still going on."


China's exports have been overstated by Chinese data...


and still are... despite crackdowns... (as Bloomberg reports)

A discrepancy between Hong Kong and Chinese figures for bilateral trade remains even after a crackdown last year on Chinese companies’ use of fake export-invoicing to evade limits on importing foreign currency.


China recorded $1.31 of exports to Hong Kong in June for every $1 in imports Hong Kong tallied from China, for a $6.4 billion difference, based on government data compiled by Bloomberg News.




Any discrepancies make it tougher to gauge the impact of global demand on a Chinese economy that’s projected for the slowest growth in 24 years.


“It’s still a bit of a mystery,” said Stephen Green, head of Greater China research at Standard Chartered Plc in Hong Kong. Regarding fraudulent invoices, “the fact that the ratio is like that would suggest that some of that is still going on,” he said.




The initial crackdown may have failed to eliminate deception. SAFE said in December that it would boost scrutiny of trade financing and that banks should prevent companies from getting financing based on fabricated trade. The State Administration of Taxation said earlier this month that it found instances of fraudulent exports used to obtain tax rebates by some companies.


“You can’t exclude the possibility that capital flows are being disguised as exports” in the China-Hong Kong figures, said Yao Wei, China economist at Societe Generale SA in Paris. “As the capital account becomes more open, the flows will show up in the places they should.”

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The question of course is which way do they converge? Is China's data correct showing a more exuberant global trade or are the rest-of-the-world right showing trade flows slowing?