China exports rebound ahead of looming challenge from Trump

Buses sit lined up at the docks waiting to be exported at a port in Lianyungang, in eastern China's Jiangsu province, on Jan 20, 2017.
Buses sit lined up at the docks waiting to be exported at a port in Lianyungang, in eastern China's Jiangsu province, on Jan 20, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - China's overseas shipments rebounded on stronger global demand, putting the nation's external sector on a firmer footing as it braces for potential trade frictions with the US under Donald Trump's presidency.

Exports rose 15.9 per cent in January from a year earlier in yuan terms, the customs administration said on Friday (Feb 10). Imports increased 25.2 per cent, leaving a trade surplus of 354.5 billion yuan (S$73.2 billion). In December, exports declined 6.2 per cent in dollar terms after revision, but they edged up 0.6 per cent in local-currency terms.

The improving picture for exports after subdued data the prior month follow a better-than-expected economic growth pace of 6.8 per cent in the fourth quarter, the first acceleration in two years. January data also benefited from a more favorable comparison to a year earlier, when shipments slumped 10.9 per cent in yuan terms.

The world's largest exporter faces more challenges and uncertainties this year as Trump - who has accused China of unfair trade practices - assembles a cabinet that includes critics of the Asian nation. While some pre-existing trade disputes continue to percolate, the new administration hasn't unveiled any major new initiatives in its first weeks.