China's Exports Climb, Imports Jump on Solid Global Demand

(Bloomberg) -- China’s overseas shipments exceeded estimates while imports surged, as the global economy continued to support demand.

Exports rose 12.9 percent in April in dollar terms, the customs administration said Tuesday. Imports surged 21.5 percent, leaving a $28.8 billion trade surplus.

“The data show continued strong growth of domestic demand and a rebound, albeit not too vigorous, of external demand,” said Dariusz Kowalczyk, senior emerging-market strategist at Credit Agricole SA. The swing back to a trade surplus is welcome for the yuan, he said.

The world’s largest exporter continues to benefit from robust global demand even as trade tensions with the U.S. persist. The U.S. last week asked China to cut the trade deficit and Beijing urged Washington to end its investigation of Chinese intellectual property practices. The talks will continue as President Xi Jinping’s top economic adviser plans to visit Washington, the White House said Monday.

China’s trade surplus with the U.S. increased to $22.2 billion in April, the first time that the gap has widened since November, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

President Donald Trump’s threats of tariffs on some $150 billion of imports from China still loom, and duties could be imposed after a public comment period ends May 22. That would escalate tensions as Beijing vowed to follow suit with levies aimed at U.S. goods including soybeans and aircraft, and economists say the threats are spurring businesses to accelerate trading activity to avoid potential duties.

“Data in April and May could be distorted by the anticipation that the U.S.-China tariffs will hit in early June, so both exports and imports could do well in these two months as businesses are making orders in advance,” said Tommy Xie, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. in Singapore. “Looking at global environment, the recovery is still on track despite the divergence of performances in different economies. That is a good thing for China’s exports.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

With assistance from Miao Han

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