Export growth in China lost some steam last month as holiday demand from abroad faded, official data showed yesterday, but demand for overseas fuel pushed imports above expectations.
Exports rose 22 percent year-on-year, better than analysts expected, but below the 27.1 percent growth clocked in October, the latest customs data showed.
Despite recent power outages caused by the surging price of coal and supply shortages, factories kept the goods flowing and the power crisis has been winding down.
However, experts have warned that the export boom is likely to fade as COVID-19 restrictions ease.
A report by ING Groep NV said that Chinese exports likely slowed “given that most orders for Western holiday demand have been fulfilled.”
Imports rose an unexpected 31.7 percent — well above the 21.5 percent increase tipped by a Bloomberg consensus poll.
“The surprisingly high number comes from contributions of coal, natural gas and crude oil imports ... it’s basically to meet the domestic demand for energy,” Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd senior China strategist Xing Zhaopeng (邢兆鵬) said.
Given that China still has limited energy capacity and will need time to build it up, energy-related imports will continue in the coming months, Xing told reporters.
China’s total trade surplus was US$71.7 billion last month, down from US$84.5 billion the month before, official data showed.
China has an important part to play in the global economy as the pandemic eases, but its growth is slowing, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Monday.
The head of the Washington-based crisis lender held a virtual meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) and discussed topics ranging from inflation to the recovery from the pandemic, a statement released by the IMF said.
“China achieved a truly remarkable recovery, but its growth momentum has been slowing notably,” Georgieva said. “As China is a vital engine for global growth, taking strong actions to support high-quality growth will help not only China, but the world.”
In October, the IMF lowered its forecasts for China’s growth due to an accelerating pullback in public spending, predicting an 8 percent expansion this year and 5.6 percent growth next year.
While the figure for this year is Beijing’s strongest rate of growth since 2011, analysts warn that China is facing a painful fallout from real-estate weakness, and shocks from surging coal prices and shortages.
Beijing had made “important contributions” to expanding COVID-19 vaccine access so the world can achieve the IMF’s goal of inoculating 40 percent of the population of each country by the end of this year and 70 percent by the middle of next year, Georgieva said.
With China embroiled in an ongoing spat with the US, Georgieva said that countries need “to cooperate to reduce trade tensions and strengthen the multilateral trading system, which is a key engine for growth and jobs.”
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