China’s trade surplus surged last month, official data showed yesterday, as export growth accelerated sharply while imports showed a surprise fall.
Exports increased 7 percent to US$195.47 billion year-on-year, while imports declined 1.6 percent to US$159.55 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of US$35.92 billion, the Chinese General Administration of Customs announced.
It represented a 74.9 percent jump from the same month last year.
The figure, China’s third straight monthly surplus, also surpassed the median forecast of a surplus of US$23.4 billion in a survey of 15 economists by Dow Jones.
Exports, which sharply outpaced April’s 0.9 percent gain, were in line with the median prediction of a 7.2 percent rise, while imports missed their forecast of a 6 percent increase.
Liu Li-Gang (劉利剛) and Zhou Hao (周浩), economists at ANZ Bank, attributed the drop in imports to a recent crackdown by Chinese regulators on the use of commodities as collateral to finance deals.
“As the import growth weakened, the trade surplus widened substantially ... suggesting that the RMB appreciation pressure remains over the foreseeable future,” they added.
The mixed trade results came as worries over China’s growth outlook have increased this year after a series of generally weaker-than-expected statistics, though trade data distortions have partially clouded the situation.
China’s GDP grew 7.4 percent in the first three months of this year, weaker than the 7.7 percent recorded in October-December last year and the worst since a similar 7.4 percent expansion in the third quarter of 2012.
The country’s trade statistics this year have been erratic, with Beijing reporting an unexpected trade deficit of almost US$23 billion in February, which authorities blamed on the Lunar New Year holiday. That was China’s first monthly deficit in 11 months.
In March, China’s trade volumes fell dramatically in a development that analysts blamed on the continued impact of fake over-reporting of exports seen in early last year.
China in March set its annual growth target for this year at about 7.5 percent, the same as last year.