Trade likely to grow at double-digit rate in 2017, says China

With September exports increasing 8.1 per cent from a year earlier and imports growing 18.7 per cent, China had a trade surplus of US$28.47 billion (S$38.6 billion) for the month, according to the General Administration of Customs.
With September exports increasing 8.1 per cent from a year earlier and imports growing 18.7 per cent, China had a trade surplus of US$28.47 billion (S$38.6 billion) for the month, according to the General Administration of Customs.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING • China's foreign trade will likely grow at a double-digit rate this year if current conditions continue, the Customs bureau said yesterday as it released September data that showed exports remained resilient.

Overseas shipments rose from a year earlier, just narrowly missing estimates - the latest sign that Asian trade is holding up on robust external demand and a brighter global outlook.

September exports rose 8.1 per cent from a year earlier, while imports beat forecasts, growing 18.7 per cent. That left China with a trade surplus of US$28.47 billion (S$38.6 billion) for the month, the General Administration of Customs said.

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 comparison with a low base last year. The official factory gauge rose to a five-year high last month, 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 has shown strengthening in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. Still China, the world's largest exporter, faces uncertainty amid trade frictions with the United States and North Korean nuclear tensions.

"The global economy is doing better," said senior China economist Donna Kwok of UBS Group in Hong Kong in a Bloomberg TV interview. "Group of 3 demand, especially for Chinese exports, has strengthened since the beginning of this year. At the start of the year you only had the US, and now you also have Europe and Japan doing better, too."

China's trade surplus with the US rose to the highest record for any single month, based on Reuters calculations from the Customs data. The surplus in September rose to US$28.08 billion versus US$26.23 billion in the previous month.

China's imports from North Korea fell for a seventh straight month last month, dropping 37.9 per cent year on year as Beijing enforced the latest United Nations trade sanctions aimed at persuading Pyongyang to rein in its nuclear and missile programmes.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2017, with the headline 'Trade likely to grow at double-digit rate in 2017, says China'. Print Edition | Subscribe