China's imports, exports surge as global economy reopens

The strong trade performance suggests Chinese exporters are making a brisk recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China's imports grew at their fastest pace this year in September, while exports extended their strong gains as more trading partners lifted coronavirus restrictions in a further boost to the world's second-biggest economy.

Exports in August rose 9.9 per cent from a year earlier, customs data showed on Tuesday (Oct 13), broadly in line with analysts' expectations for 10 per cent growth and up from a solid 9.5 per cent increase in August.

The strong trade performance suggests Chinese exporters are making a brisk recovery from the coronavirus pandemic's hit to overseas orders. As the global economy restarts, Chinese firms are rushing to grab market share as their rivals grapple with reduced manufacturing capacity.

China's factory activity has also picked up as international trading gradually resumes.

But some analysts warn exports could peak soon as demand for Chinese-made protective gear recedes and the base effect of this year's massive declines wears off.

Imports surged 13.2 per cent, returning to growth from a slump of 2.1 per cent in August and much stronger than expectations for a 0.3 per cent increase.

The country's trade surplus for September stood at US$37 billion (S$50.3 billion), compared with an expected US$58.00 billion surplus forecast in the poll and a surplus of US$58.93 billion in August.

Already heightened US-China tensions are expected to escalate ahead of the US presidential election. China remains well behind on its pledge to boost purchases of US goods under an agreement that was launched in February.

China's trade surplus with the United States narrowed to US$30.75 billion in September from US$34.24 billion in August.

Top US and Chinese trade officials reaffirmed their commitment to a Phase 1 trade deal in a phone call in August.

However, US Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue cast doubt earlier this month on the likelihood of China meeting its commitment to purchase enough agricultural products as promised in its Phase 1 trade deal.

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