China's exports up but import growth weakens in possible sign economic recovery is slowing

BEIJING, China – China’s November exports accelerated but import growth slumped in a sign the recovery of the world’s second-largest economy might be slowing.

Exports surged 12.7 per cent over a year earlier to $202.2 billion, up from October’s 5.6 per cent expansion, trade data showed Sunday.

Imports rose 5.3 per cent to $168.4 billion, but that growth was down from the previous month’s 7.6 per cent.

China’s economic growth rebounded in the three months ending in September to 7.8 per cent after plunging to a two-decade low the previous quarter. But forecasters have warned that was likely to be temporary and growth would fall back late this year or early in 2014.

The rebound was driven by a government mini-stimulus based on higher spending on building railways and other public works.

Chinese leaders are trying to guide the economy to slower, more sustainable growth based on domestic consumption instead of exports and investment. An unexpectedly sharp decline raised the risk of politically volatile job losses and prompted them to reverse course temporarily to prop up growth.

The relative strength in November exports should help to reassure communist leaders who faced the prospect of job losses in trade-dependent industries due to weak global demand.

Slower Chinese growth and weaker demand would have global repercussions for suppliers of raw materials, technology and consumer goods.

The import slowdown caused China’s global trade surplus to widen by 73 per cent to $33.8 billion over a year earlier, one of its widest trade gaps this year.

China’s trade surplus with the 27-nation European Union was $10.2 billion, while that with the United States was $22.4 billion.


General Administration of Customs of China (in Chinese):