China records $22.4 billion trade surplus in April

BEIJING (AFP) - China recorded an US$18.2 billion (S$22.4 billion) trade surplus in April, Customs authorities said on Wednesday, ahead of expectations and reversing a rare deficit in March.

April imports to the world's second-largest economy increased 16.8 percent year-on-year to US$168.9 billion, Customs said in a statement, while exports rose 14.7 percent to US$187.1 billion.

The monthly surplus came after the country posted a rare deficit of US$880 million in March and was higher than the median forecast of US$15.6 billion in a poll of 12 economists by Dow Jones Newswires.

For the first four months of the year, China had a trade surplus of US$61.0 billion, Customs said.

Statistics have painted a mixed picture for the Chinese economy in recent months.

China grew at its slowest pace in 13 years in 2012, with gross domestic product expanding 7.8 percent in the face of weakness at home and in key overseas markets.

There was a rebound to 7.9 percent in the final quarter of 2012, raising hopes of recovery, but in the first three months of this year growth slowed to 7.7 percent.

China's total trade grew just 6.2 percent last year, well below the official target of about 10 percent.

The government has set a growth goal of eight percent for two-way trade this year. Customs said total trade increased by 14 percent year-on-year to US$1.33 trillion in the January-April period.