China exports remain resilient in September as import gains signal strength

Trucks carrying shipping containers are seen at Nansha terminal of Guangzhou port in Guangdong province, China, on June 14, 2017.
Trucks carrying shipping containers are seen at Nansha terminal of Guangzhou port in Guangdong province, China, on June 14, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - China's overseas shipments rose from a year earlier in September amid robust external demand, the latest sign Asian trade is strengthening as the global outlook brightens.

Exports increased 9.0 per cent in September in yuan terms, the customs administration said on Friday (Oct 13). Imports increased 19.5 per cent, leaving a trade surplus of 193 billion yuan (S$39.76 billion). Economists in a Bloomberg survey forecast an export increase of 10.9 per cent, a rise in imports of 16.5 per cent and a trade surplus of 266.1 billion yuan.

Demand for Chinese products has proven robust as growth in major trading partners holds up, though this trade report also gets a boost from a low base comparison with last year. The official factory gauge rose to a five-year high in September, and the International Monetary Fund this week raised its global growth forecast as well as its estimate for China.

Trade also has been looking better elsewhere across Asia. Exports surged to records last month in both South Korea and Taiwan, while August data have shown strengthening in Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia.

Still, the world's largest exporter faces uncertainty. Trade frictions between the two biggest economies remain tight after the US began an investigation of China's intellectual property practices, which a Beijing official recently warned could spark a trade war. North Korean nuclear tensions also are raising risks for China.

Third-quarter growth edged down to 6.8 per cent on year from 6.9 per cent, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists before gross domestic product is due for release Oct 19.