China's export growth misses forecasts despite strong demand

Published Tue, Apr 13, 2021 · 11:32 AM

[SHANGHAI] China's exports rose less than expected in March even as global demand continued to strengthen, while imports grew at a faster pace.

Exports climbed 30.6 per cent in dollar terms in March from a year earlier, while imports surged 38.1 per cent, the customs administration said Tuesday. That left a trade surplus of US$13.8 billion for the month. Economists had forecast that exports would increase by 38 per cent while imports would gain by 24.4 per cent.

Key Insights

Although growth slowed from a record gain in February, the data indicate export momentum remained strong in March as the rollout of vaccines and a recovery in global growth helped to spur demand.

China's major economic indicators so far this year have been distorted by the comparison with a low base in early 2020, when the pandemic shut down much of the world's second-largest economy. Premier Li Keqiang told experts and enterprises on the weekend to look beyond the 'base effect' and use other data and methods to assess the economic situation.

The World Trade Organization forecast that global trade would increase by 8 per cent this year, the biggest increase since 2010, after falling 5.3 per cent in 2020. While giving no prediction for China's foreign trade outlook, the nation's commerce ministry has said it would push for stable development in foreign trade this year, and steadily improve the quality.

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In yuan terms, exports rose 38.7 per cent in the first quarter to 4.61 trillion yuan (S$944 billion), while imports were up 19.3 per cent to 3.86 trillion yuan, leaving a surplus of 759.3 billion yuan.

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