BEIJING • China's exports unexpectedly surged last month, helping to underpin the economy amid signs the recovery is starting to slow.
Export growth accelerated to 32.2 per cent in United States dollar terms last month from a year earlier, the Customs administration said yesterday, overturning economists' expectations of a slowdown to 23 per cent.
Imports climbed 36.7 per cent, beating the median forecast of 29.5 per cent. That left a trade surplus of US$51.5 billion (S$69.7 billion) for the month, the highest since January.
Global appetite for Chinese goods including medical goods and work-from-home equipment spurred exports this year, along with rising prices. But there are emerging signs the momentum could begin to moderate amid supply shortages and high shipping costs, as well as a pickup in production capacity elsewhere.
"The surprise surge in exports is probably in large part due to rising commodity prices, as commodities like iron ore soared and price pressures passed on from imports to exports," said Mr Zhou Hao, senior emerging markets economist at Commerzbank.
Export growth will likely slow in the second half of the year because of a high base last year, he added.
Mr Li Kuiwen, a spokesman for the Customs administration, also pointed to slower growth in imports and exports for the rest of the year, while noting that full-year trade is still expected to register relatively fast expansion.
The surge in trade last month came despite a resurgence in coronavirus cases in southern China that had caused delays in shipments at some major ports for much of last month.
Growth in exports to the US slowed to 17.8 per cent last month, while picking up strongly to Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea. China's trade surplus with the US continued to increase, reaching US$32.6 billion last month.
Earlier, the Customs administration reported trade in yuan figures, showing exports climbed 28.1 per cent in the first half of the year from a year earlier, while imports rose 25.9 per cent.