China's export growth unexpectedly accelerates in June

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) – China’s exports unexpectedly surged in June, helping to underpin the economy amid signs the recovery is starting to slow.

Export growth accelerated to 32.2 per cent in US dollar terms in June from a year earlier, the customs administration said on Tuesday (July 13), 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$69.6 billion) for the month, the highest since January.

Global appetite for Chinese goods including medical goods and work-from-home equipment helped to spur exports this year, along with the 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 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 said.

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 June.

Export growth to the US slowed to 17.8 per cent in June, 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.

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