China March exports jump 16.4%, trade surplus with US rises to US$17.7b

Exports in the first quarter of the year rose 8.2 per cent from the same period last year, China's General Administration of Customs said.
Exports in the first quarter of the year rose 8.2 per cent from the same period last year, China's General Administration of Customs said. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China's March exports rose 16.4 per cent from a year earlier, while imports increased 20.3 per cent, both exceeding market expectations, official data showed on Thursday (April 13).

Exports in the first quarter of the year rose 8.2 per cent from the same period last year, while imports surged 24.0 per cent, the General Administration of Customs said.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected March exports to rise 3.2 per cent on-year, after a surprise drop of 1.3 per cent in February. Imports had been expected to grow 18.0 per cent, after a blowout 38.1 per cent expansion the previous month.

China's trade surplus with the United States rose to US$17.74 billion (S$24.73 billion) in March from US$10.42 billion in February, the customs data showed.

China's trade surplus with the US in the first quarter was US$49.6 billion, compared with US$50.57 billion surplus a year ago.

President Donald Trump has focused on China's large surplus with the US, which was US$347 billion last year, and pressed Chinese President Xi Jinping at a meeting last week to help reduce the gap.

The US and China agreed at the meeting to a 100-day plan for trade talks aimed at boosting US exports and reducing China's trade surplus with the US.

Trump administration officials have said they plan tougher enforcement of US trade remedy laws and will initiate more unilateral trade deals.

China's overall trade surplus totaled US$23.93 billion in March as imports continued to rise, driven by strong demand for commodities from iron ore to crude oil and coal.

Analysts had expected China's overall trade surplus to rise to US$10 billion in March, after recording the first monthly deficit in three years in February.

China's first-quarter trade surplus was US$65.61 billion.