Published: Sun, February 12, 2017
Finance | By Laverne Griffith

China January exports, imports easily beat expectations

China January exports, imports easily beat expectations

Led by electronics, China's exports last month climbed the most in almost a year, adding to evidence that Asia's long trade recession may be bottoming out.

Analysts say the trade surplus was boosted by the Chinese New Year holiday, which fell on January 28, 11 days earlier than last year.

A final report for the period is expected on February 23.

China's exports and imports are expected to grow by 4 percent and 2.2 percent in 2017 as global trade is likely to warm slightly, according to a research paper released by Nomura Securities.

China's overseas shipments rebounded on stronger global demand, putting the nation's external sector on a firmer footing as it braces for potential trade frictions with the USA under Donald Trump's presidency.

Imports in January surged 16.7% from a year earlier, compared with 3.1% growth in December.

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Analysts were expecting China's trade surplus to have risen to $47.90 billion in January, versus December's $40.71 billion, with growing attention on its large trade surplus with the United States as new U.S. President Donald Trump ramps up his protectionist rhetoric.

The trade turnover between the two countries amounted to $6.55 billion in January 2017.

In volume terms, imports of iron ore also surged by 12 percent year-on-year in January following a temporary contraction in December. The sharp rise in China's exports in January ended the nine months of contraction. "It is pretty obvious to me that the climate for exports to the U.S. is going to be much harsher in the coming years".

China's total trade surplus narrowed in 2016 to $510.7 billion. "Large concerns remain ahead, as the trade situation for China largely depends on its relationship with the new USA administration", Nishihama said.

Prolonged weakness in exports has forced China's government to rely on higher spending and massive bank lending to boost the economy, at the risk of adding to a huge pile of debt which some analysts warn is nearing danger levels.

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