Qingdao Port, a major trading hub in East China's Shandong Province that handles bulk commodity shipments, witnessed increasing exports to South Korea and Japan in February, but imports from South Korea dropped slightly amid China's prolonged fight against the virus.
From February 1 to 25, export throughput levels to South Korea and Japan from Qingdao Port both rose thanks to large shipments of bulk commodities, the port told the Global Times.
Iron ore, vegetables, chemicals, textiles, and mechanical and electrical products are major exports to the two countries from the port.
"As China gradually resumes its production in areas except Hubei at a steady pace, exports to South Korea and Japan in March and April will surpass those of February," Tian Yun, director of the China Society of Macroeconomics Research Center, told the Global Times.
However, the port saw a slight decrease in imported goods from South Korea, such as plastic particles and timber, in February on a year-on-year basis. For Japan, the numbers rose year-on-year, due to paper pulp trade.
According to statistics released by South Korea's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Sunday, the country's monthly exports to China fell 6.6 percent and average daily exports to China dived 21.1 percent year-on-year, Business Korea reported.
Reuters said South Korean new export orders suffered the worst decline since August 2013 due to the rapidly spreading virus, which has brought serious disruptions to global supply chains because of production halts in China.
Tian noted that China's imports from South Korea may continue to drop if the virus epidemic continues to worsen in South Korea and hurt its manufacturing sector.
"Our imports from South Korea are different from those of Japan, because China cannot find replacements for many components and materials made in Japan, such as special rubber used in smartphones and components for precision instruments," Tian noted.
However, the epidemic may speed up some replacement of South Korean products in China because once China fully recovers its production, it can produce some of the items itself if imports are cut in March, Tian said, citing 14-nanometer chips made by Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp.