China’s exports and imports grow more slowly in December

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BEIJING (REUTERS) – China’s exports and imports grew more slowly in December as the world’s second-largest economy showed signs of slowing, but exports came in just above expectations, buoyed by ongoing solid global demand.

Exports rose 20.9 per cent year-on-year last month after increasing 22 per cent in November 2021, customs data showed on Friday (Jan 14). Analysts in a Reuters poll had expected exports to increase 20 per cent.

China’s booming exports outperformed expectations for much of 2021 and buoyed growth as several other sectors were faltering, but shipments have been slowing as an overseas surge in demand for goods eases and high costs pressure exporters.

Imports rose 19.5 per cent year-on-year in December, the customs data showed, missing a forecast 26.3 per cent rise and sharply down from a 31.7 per cent gain in November.

China posted a trade surplus of US$94.46 billion (S$127.1 billion) last month, versus a forecast for a US$74.50 billion surplus in the poll. China reported a US$71.72 billion surplus in November.

For all of 2021, total exports rose 29.9 per cent, compared to a 3.6 per cent gain in 2020. Imports for the year gained 30.1 per cent percent, after falling 1.1 percent in 2020.

China has staged an impressive recovery from the pandemic but there are signs the momentum is flagging. A property downturn and strict Covid-19 curbs are among the headwinds clouding the outlook for 2022.

The country will roll out more policies to help exporters and ease the pressure of international logistics problems, the official Xinhua news agency said in late December, citing a meeting of the State Council chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.

China’s vice commerce minister said on Dec 30 that the country will face an unprecedented degree of difficulty in stabilising foreign trade in 2022, as other exporters ramp up production and amid a less-favourable base of comparison.

At a key agenda-setting meeting last month, China’s top leaders pledged to focus on stabilising the economy and keeping growth within a reasonable range in 2022.

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