BEIJING (AP) – China’s exports grew at a slightly faster pace in September, as demand for imported iron ore and other raw materials slowed as the building boom calmed down and authorities imposed restrictions on energy consumption.
Customs data showed that exports rose 28.1 percent to $ 305.7 billion. This was slightly faster than the 26% increase recorded in August, and above economists’ forecasts. Imports rose 17.6% to $ 240 billion, down from the 33% increase in the previous month.
This year’s trade figures were skewed from 2020, when global demand plunged in the first half of the year after governments closed factories and stores to fight the pandemic. Chinese exporters reopened after the ruling Communist Party declared the virus under control in March 2020, while their foreign competitors were still hampered by anti-virus restrictions.
“China’s foreign trade performance is leading among the world’s major economies, and China has seen its international market share increase,” said Li Kuiwen, spokesperson for the customs agency.
“Given the impact of the high base of foreign trade in 2020, the growth rate of imports and exports may fall in the fourth quarter of this year, but the general upward trend of China’s foreign trade will not change. not and rapid growth throughout the year is still expected, ”Li said.
Still, economists have predicted that the increase in global demand for Chinese goods will level off as disease controls loosen and entertainment, travel and other service industries reopen.
“The biggest problem for exports is that foreign demand has been supported by significant stimulus measures in developed economies and changes in consumption patterns due to the pandemic, both of which are expected to ease over the next few years. quarters, ”said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics. in a comment.
He said imports are also expected to weaken as housing construction slows and commodity prices retreat after rising in the initial manufacturing rush as economies ease restrictions linked to the pandemic.
China’s global trade surplus reached $ 68 billion in September, from $ 52 billion in August. This is the highest level since 2015.
The politically sensitive trade surplus with the United States reached $ 42 billion in September, from nearly $ 38 billion in August, according to the report.
Exports to the United States jumped 30% to $ 57.4 billion, while imports from the United States rose nearly 17% to $ 15.4 billion. U.S. retailers are stocking bare store shelves, helping to keep demand strong, economists said.
More than three years after former US President Donald Trump launched a tariff war against Beijing, the administration of his successor Joe Biden has not said whether it will accept Chinese demands to remove some of these punitive tariffs.
A certain resentment between the two largest economies has eased in recent weeks. But Biden’s top trade official, Katherine Tai, said last week she plans to have frank talks with Beijing over complaints about policies that foreign companies say give their Chinese competitors an unfair advantage.
Southeast Asia was China’s largest export market in September, reflecting expanding trade relations as countries lower tariffs and dismantle some barriers under regional trade agreements.
Data released on Wednesday showed strong growth in exports of vehicles, cellphones, consumer electronics and auto parts in January-September.
Imports of metals and semiconductors weakened, in part due to shortages of computer chips used in a wide range of products made in China.
The ruling Communist Party has worked to reduce debt levels and curb the construction boom that has driven much of the economic activity in recent years. This slows down the demand for building materials.
Authorities are also imposing restrictions on the use of coal as they strive to meet carbon reduction and smoggy skies targets. But rising prices for oil, coal and other commodities mean less obvious impact on easing demand for dollars.
General Administration of Customs of China (in Chinese): www.customs.gov.cn