China Records Highest Ever Exports, up 21% From Last Year
A trade surplus of $75.42 billion in just a month. The Chinese aren't shooting themselves in the spine with shutdowns
China’s trade surplus widened to a record in November, as global demand for the country’s goods grew even more robust.
November exports were up 21% from a year earlier, the General Administration of Customs reported Monday, accelerating from October’s 11.4% and beating economists’ 12% forecast. Imports were up 4.5%, slowing slightly from October’s 4.7% and short of the 5.3% expected by economists. The resulting $75.42 billion trade surplus topped the record set in May, when a drop in imports was the major factor.
China’s exports have topped market expectations since the second quarter, when Beijing moved to restart the world’s second-largest economy after lockdowns and Covid-19 outbreaks at the start of the year. During the pandemic, protective gear and work-from-home tech products have served as pillars for China’s overseas trade, helping it gain global market share.
“Outbound shipments remained strong thanks to a surge in global demand for Chinese-made consumer goods such as electronic products. Exports of other goods were still much more subdued,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, an economist with Capital Economics.
China’s November shipments to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the U.S., its No. 1 and No. 3 trading partners, respectively, were up 10% and 46% from a year earlier, beating October’s pace. Exports to the European Union, its No. 2 trading partner, were up 8.6% after being down 7% in October, according to calculations made by The Wall Street Journal.
Louis Kuijs, an economist with Oxford Economics, said that though he expects a global economic rebound to underpin solid export growth for China in 2021, the country’s performance would likely be less impressive as pandemic purchases taper off once vaccines reduce the need for social distancing.
China’s November imports of goods from the U.S. were up 33% from a year earlier, on par with October’s pace. But purchases of American farm, energy, and other products and services are far below levels promised in the trade deal with the U.S. earlier this year. Through October, Chinese imports of goods covered in the agreement were 55% of the year-to-date targets, according to a calculation based on Chinese figures by Chad Bown, a senior fellow at Peterson Institute for International Economics. Many economists say it would be almost impossible for China to close the gap by the end of the year.
China’s purchases of services from the U.S. and other parts of the world have been depressed this year because of the sharp drop in tourism and education spending during the pandemic.
President-elect Joe Biden said last week that he wouldn’t immediately remove President Trump’s tariffs on China when he takes office next month.
In a two-year trade spat, the Trump administration imposed a series of tariffs on China. They were left in place on about $370 billion in goods after the two countries signed a trade deal in January to pressure Beijing to buy the agreed-on amounts of U.S. goods and services.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
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