Dow Jones – China's exports and imports showed surprising strength in November, underpinned by a recovering global economy and resilient domestic demand.
Exports were up 12.3% from a year earlier, the General Administration of Customs said, accelerating from October's 6.9% pace and well above the 6% economists had expected.
“The figure showed strong growth momentum in China's export sector that was buoyed by robust demand from Europe and the US," said Zhang Ning, an economist with UBS.
The upswing in global demand has meant nine straight months of rising Chinese exports, a significant factor in the country's higher-than-expected economic growth in the first three quarters – after two years in which weak exports were a drag on growth. Global demand is expected to continue supporting the Chinese economy in 2018, giving Beijing more leeway for structural reforms including financial deleveraging, said Zhang.
But he also warned of risks from US-China tensions, as the trade gap between the two broke $25bn for the sixth straight month. China's trade surplus with the US widened to $27.87bn in November from $26.62bn in October.
It accounted for nearly 70% of China's total trade surplus with all its trading partners, which widened to $40.21bn from $38.2bn the previous month. The median forecast was $34.2bn.
Economists expect this year's US-China trade gap to exceed last year's – $347bn, according to US figures. It is by far the largest between the US and any of its trading partners.