China’s exports top forecasts, imports growth best in decade

Country's forex reserves rise to $3.2tn

BEIJING: Chinese exports grew at a forecast-busting rate last month, data showed Friday, while imports surged at their strongest in a decade as the global economy bounces back from the pandemic crisis and domestic consumption recovers.

With vaccines being rolled out around the world — particularly in the key US market — and economically painful lockdowns being eased, demand for China’s goods has picked up this year, having fallen off a cliff in 2020.

Shipments abroad soared 32.3 percent on-year in April — smashing the 24.1 percent expected in a Bloomberg survey — thanks to a sharp rise in demand for electronics and medical masks. The impressive figures are attributable to last year’s very low base of comparison owing to the pandemic.

But they still show that the global recovery is underway, led by the United States where the economy is scorching along on the back of vast government spending and central bank largesse.

“The stimulus in developed economies, especially in the US, sustained their demand for Chinese manufactured products,” Nomura chief China economist Lu Ting told AFP.

At home, with the coronavirus largely brought under control, China’s vast army of consumers are getting back to their daily lives after last year’s travails, sending imports up 43.1 percent, slightly below forecast but the best rise since early 2011. In April, China’s trade surplus with the US — a key point of contention during their bruising trade war — rose 23 percent to $28.1 billion.

Forex reserves rise to $3.2tn

China’s foreign exchange reserves, the world’s largest, increased in April from a month earlier, official data showed on Friday, as the US dollar weakened. Reserves rose by $28.15 billion to $3.198 trillion, data from the central bank showed. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the reserves to rise to $3.2 trillion from $3.17 trillion in March.

The increase was due to the dollar’s fall against other major currencies held in the reserves, and to rises in global asset prices, the foreign exchange regulator said in a statement.

The yuan appreciated 1.2% against the dollar in April, while the US currency fell 2.1% against a basket of other major currencies.

Strong foreign capital inflows to China also continued in April after the country posted record economic growth in the first three months of the year.

China accounted for 95% of foreign net inflows to emerging market equities last month at $13.5 billion, though flows into Chinese debt eased, data from the Institute of International Finance showed.

China held 62.64 million fine troy ounces of gold at the end of April, unchanged from a month earlier, the data showed.

The value of its gold reserves rose to $110.73 billion at the end of April from $109.18 billion at the end of March.

China posted a preliminary current account surplus of $75.1 billion in the first quarter, equivalent to 2% of gross domestic product, the foreign exchange regulator said. It had a preliminary capital and financial account deficit of $75.1 billion in January-March, it said.

 

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