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Adjusting Chinese bilateral trade data: how big is China's trade surplus

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  • John W. Schindler
  • Dustin H. Beckett

Abstract

Hong Kong plays a prominent role as a re-exporter of a large percentage of trade bound for or coming from China. Current reporting practices in China and its trading partners do not fully reflect this role and therefore provide a misleading picture of the origin or ultimate destination of Chinese exports and imports. We adjust bilateral trade data for both China and its trading partners to correct for this problem. We also correct for differences due to markups in Hong Kong and different standards for reporting trade (c.i.f. versus f.o.b.). For 2003, we estimate that China's overall trade surplus was between $53 billion and $126 billion, larger than that reported in official Chinese data, but smaller than that reported by China's trading partners. We also provide evidence that, in general, the actual origin of a good that is transshipped through Hong Kong is correctly reported by the importing country, but the final destination of such goods is not correctly reported by the exporting country.

Suggested Citation

  • John W. Schindler & Dustin H. Beckett, 2005. "Adjusting Chinese bilateral trade data: how big is China's trade surplus," International Finance Discussion Papers 831, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:831
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert C. Feenstra, 1999. "Discrepancies in International Data: An Application to China-Hong Kong Entrepot Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 338-343, May.
    2. Fung, K. C. & Lau, Lawrence J., 2001. "New Estimates of the United States-China BilateralTrade Balances," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 102-130, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Yin-Wong Cheung & Menzie D. Chinn & Eiji Fujii, 2010. "China's Current Account and Exchange Rate," NBER Chapters,in: China's Growing Role in World Trade, pages 231-271 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Wang, Zhi & Gehlhar, Mark & Yao, Shunli, 2010. "A globally consistent framework for reliability-based trade statistics reconciliation in the presence of an entrepôt," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 161-189, March.
    3. Lynn E. Browne, 2005. "The New England-China relationship in 2005," New England Public Policy Center Working Paper 05-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    4. Chad P. Bown & Meredith A. Crowley & Rachel McCulloch & Daisuke J. Nakajima, 2005. "The U.S. trade deficit: made in China?," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q IV, pages 2-18.
    5. Matthieu Bussière & Bernd Schnatz, 2009. "Evaluating China’s Integration in World Trade with a Gravity Model Based Benchmark," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 85-111, February.

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    Keywords

    Balance of trade - China;

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