China’s logistics industry improves in March as economic recovery accelerates

Staff members load vehicles for export onto a carriage at the Ningde land port in Ningde, southeast China's Fujian Province, Feb. 8, 2024. The Ningde land port, with vehicle transportation railway lines and vehicle loading and unloading platforms, has served as a logistics distribution center and shipment hub for vehicles to be exported to global markets. Photo: Xinhua

Staff members load vehicles for export onto a carriage at the Ningde land port in Ningde, southeast China’s Fujian Province, Feb. 8, 2024. The Ningde land port, with vehicle transportation railway lines and vehicle loading and unloading platforms, has served as a logistics distribution center and shipment hub for vehicles to be exported to global markets. Photo: Xinhua

China’s logistics industry experienced a notable improvement in March, signaling a steady start to the first quarter and the overall recovery of the Chinese economy, industry data showed on Tuesday.

The nation’s logistics industry prosperity index rose to 51.5, marking a 4.4-point increase from the previous month and returning to the expansion zone, according to data from China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing on Tuesday.

All major sub-indices of China’s logistics sector saw an increase, with the business volume index, new order index, and inventory turnover index showing significant improvements. 

He Hui, chief economist with the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing, said that the accelerated resumption of work following the Chinese New Year break and heightened business activities along the supply chain have increased the demand for logistics in March, providing a good start for the first quarter.

Business volume for road logistics and postal express delivery picked up 4.7 points and 3.7 points respectively from February due to a significant growth in resident consumption and retail business.

The delivery of bulk commodities also picked up. In March the railway logistics index reached 53.5, up 1.8 points from February. The daily freight volume increased 5 percent from the January-February period.

Surveyed companies expressed optimism about future business activities, with the business activity expectation index reaching 55.3 in March, up 0.5 points from the previous month.

Fixed asset investment and operational efficiency in the logistics industry also improved in March, with a growing pace of infrastructure project starting and increased investment in information and digitalization upgrading.

China’s logistics industry is expected to remain in positive throughout the year, benefitting from a slew of policies to boost domestic demand, stabilize investment, and stimulate foreign trade, according to the federation.

The demand for industrial manufacturing and consumer goods trade-ins and demand for sectors such as information communication technology, new energy, equipment manufacturing, automotive manufacturing, and green low-carbon industries will further drive the logistics industry.

China’s factory data for March also show a bright start to the year, adding to an increasing number of economic indicators that point to an accelerating recovery of the Chinese economy.

The Caixin manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) on Monday reached 51.1 in March, 0.2 points higher than that in February and the highest level since March 2023. 

China’s official manufacturing PMI data on Sunday also reflected a positive picture for factory activity in March. The official manufacturing PMI stood at 50.8, returning to expansion territory for the first time since September 2023.