CHINA’S January exports rose 7.9 percent from a year earlier, while imports jumped 16.7 percent, beating expectations, preliminary data showed Friday, getting the economy off to a strong start in 2017.
That left the country with a trade surplus of US$51.35 billion for the month, the General Administration of Customs said.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected exports to rise 3.3 percent and imports to gain 10 percent, indicating a recovery in other parts of Asia might finally be spreading to China.
“It is related to the global pick-up in growth in the United States, Europe and also emerging economies,” said Shen Jianguang, chief Asia economist at Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd. in Hong Kong. “Imports are strong, which is understandable, as government stimulus has boosted domestic demand. The exports outlook for China is good, except for the potential risk of a Sino-U.S. trade war.”
China’s politically sensitive trade surplus with the United States contracted by just over 1 percent from a year earlier to US$21.4 billion. U.S. President Donald Trump has promised to take a tougher line toward China on trade, raising fears of a slump in commerce between the two countries, which are among each other’s biggest trading partners.
China’s trade figures can be distorted by the Lunar New Year holiday, which falls at different times in January and February each year. Factories rush to fill orders before closing for up to two weeks and then restock with a flood of imported raw materials. This year’s holiday began Jan. 27, so some of that shutdown was in January, while last year’s break didn’t begin until Feb. 7.
China’s global trade surplus shrank by 19 percent from a year ago to US$51.3 billion. Its surplus with the 28-nation European Union, its biggest trading partner, declined 2 percent to US$14.1 billion.
China’s economy grew a faster-than-expected 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter, boosted by government spending and a housing frenzy that spurred a construction boom and higher imports of building-related materials from iron ore to copper. But exports remained stubbornly weak last year amid sluggish global demand.
Last year, exports shrank by 7.7 percent. Exports have contracted in each of the past six months except November, when they rose by just 0.1 percent over a year earlier.(SD-Agencies)