China’s exports rose for the third consecutive month in August, eclipsing an extended fall in imports, as more of its trading partners relaxed coronavirus lockdowns in a further boost to the recovery in the world’s second-biggest economy.
Exports in August rose a solid 9.5% from a year earlier, customs data showed on Monday, marking the strongest gain since March 2019. The figure also beat analysts’ expectations for 7.1% growth and compared with a 7.2% increase in July.
Imports however slumped 2.1%, compared with market expectations for a 0.1% increase and extending a 1.4% fall in July.
The strong exports suggest a faster and more balanced recovery for the Chinese economy, which is rebounding from a record first-quarter slump thanks largely to domestic stimulus measures
“China’s exports continue to defy expectations and to grow significantly faster than global trade, thus gaining global market share,” said Louis Kuijs of Oxford Economics.
A private survey on manufacturing activity last week showed Chinese factories reported the first increase in new export orders this year in August as overseas demand slowly revives. The pick-up in business also led to a further expansion in production, marking the sharpest gain in almost a decade.
China’s export performance, boosted by record shipments of medical supplies and robust demand for electronic products, has not been as severely affected by the global slowdown as some analysts had feared.
All the same, some analysts cautioned that the stronger exports reflected in part the base effects of the year-ago weakness.
But imports were largely stable in terms of volume, said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics, in a note.
“With credit growth still accelerating and infrastructure-led stimulus still ramping up, import volumes should remain strong in the coming months,” he said.
Copper imports in August eased from the previous month’s all-time high, as an arbitrage window to bring in overseas metal shut and demand from key consumption sectors slowed. Coal imports slipped 20.8% from the month before. Iron ore imports fell 10.9% from July but rose from a year earlier on resilient demand for steel.
China posted a trade surplus of $58.93 billion last month, compared with the poll’s forecast for a $50.50 billion surplus and $62.33 billion surplus in July.
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