Fri, Apr 14, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Chinese exports accelerate in March

PICKUP:While exports unexpectedly jumped last month, import growth moderated, which an analysts said could be a sign that China’s economic recovery is losing steam

AP, BEIJING

Chinese export growth accelerated last month in a positive sign for global demand, though import growth cooled.

Exports rose 16.4 percent from a year earlier last month to US$180.6 billion, faster than the 4 percent annual growth posted in the first two months of the year, according to customs data released yesterday.

Imports rose 20.3 percent from to US$156.6 billion, moderating from January-February’s annual growth of 26.4 percent.

“There are increased signs of warming up in the global economy,” which helped China’s steady growth in the first quarter, Yan Pengcheng (嚴鵬程), a spokesman for the nation’s top economic planning agency, told a news conference.

The unexpectedly strong exports are a positive sign for Chinese leaders who want to avert job losses in trade-related industries while they try to nurture consumer-driven economic growth.

“External demand appears to have strengthened further,” Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said in a report.

“On the other hand, however, there are signs that the jump in imports on the back of China’s recent economic recovery may now be starting to lose steam,” the report said.

China’s politically sensitive global trade surplus contracted 20 percent from a year earlier to US$23.93 billion last month.

Analysts had expected the trade balance to return to a surplus of US$10 last month, after Beijing reported its first trade gap in three years in February.

Chinese exports in the first quarter of the year rose 8.2 percent from the same period last year, while imports surged 24 percent. The first-quarter surplus was US$65.61 billion.

Despite the strong readings, the customs office said that the trade situation remains complicated and that challenges facing exporters are not short-term.

A shadow has fallen over the trade relationship between China and the US, its largest export market, as US President Donald Trump has railed against the massive trade imbalance between the two countries, which was US$347 billion in favor of China last year.

Chinese exports to the US rose 19.7 percent last month from a year earlier, while imports from the US rose 15.1 percent.

However, China’s trade surplus with US remained high in the first quarter at US$49.6 billion, down only slightly from US$50.57 billion in the year-ago period.

Customs spokesman Huang Songping (黃頒平) said that better communication between China and the US would benefit trade and investment between the two countries.

In related news, foreign direct investment (FDI) into China rose 1 percent to 226.51 billion yuan (US$32.91 billion) in the first three months of this year from the same period a year earlier, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said yesterday.

Last month, FDI rose 6.7 percent year-on-year to 87.83 billion yuan, according to a statement on the ministry’s Web site.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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