Fri, Mar 09, 2018 - Page 10 News List

PRC’s exports surge, but trade surplus widens


Workers tie down ropes from a container ship yesterday at a port in Qingdao, China.

Photo: AP

China’s exports surged last month while its politically sensitive trade surplus widened amid mounting tension with the US.

Exports rose 44.5 percent over a year earlier to US$171.6 billion, accelerating from January’s 11.1 percent growth, customs data showed yesterday.

Imports rose 6.3 percent to US$137.8 billion, down sharply from the previous month’s 36.9 percent rate.

Trade data are distorted by the Lunar New Year holiday, which falls at different times in January or February each year. Data for the combined two-month period, which economists often use to screen out the holiday influence, showed exports rising by a robust 24.4 percent over a year earlier, up from December last year’s 10.9 percent growth.

China’s global trade surplus widened to US$33.7 billion from January’s US$20.3 billion. For the two-month period, the surplus expanded by 31 percent from a year earlier to US$55.3 billion.

Last month’s surplus with the US was $20.9 billion. China’s steady accumulation of multibillion-dollar trade surpluses with the US has prompted demands for import controls.

US President Donald Trump’s administration has increased duties on Chinese-made washing machines, solar modules and other goods it says are being sold at improperly low prices.

It is due to announce results of a probe into whether Beijing improperly pressures foreign companies to hand over technology, which could lead to further penalties.

Beijing has accused Trump of threatening the global trade regulation system by taking action under US law instead of through the WTO. It has filed a challenge in the WTO against Washington’s latest trade measures.

Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) said that a “trade war” would hurt all sides.

“The broad-based recovery in China’s major export markets could explain part of the reason why exports were still quite strong,” said Betty Wang, senior China economist at ANZ in Hong Kong.

However, tension with the US “is definitely a near-term concern and a near-term downside risk to China’s trade outlook,” she added.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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