[BEIJING] China's trade surplus hit a record US$54.47 billion (S$72 billion) in November, soaring 61.4 per cent on-year as imports to the world's second-largest economy surprisingly fell, the government said on Monday.
Exports grew at a slower 4.7 per cent year-on-year to US$211.66 billion in November, while imports dropped 6.7 per cent to US$157.19 billion, the General Administration of Customs said, highlighting continued weaknesses in the world's number two economy. The trade surplus beat August's previous record of US$49.8 billion and was also better than the median forecast of US$45.1 billion in a survey of 16 economists by Dow Jones Newswires.
But export growth slowed from the 11.6 per cent year-on-year expansion in October, while the unexpected contraction in imports compared with growth of 4.6 per cent that month. Analysts had expected exports to grow 8.0 per cent and imports to expand 3.9 per cent.
The latest trade figures come as China is assailed by weakness in industrial and financial sectors, prompting the country's central bank last month to cut benchmark interest rates for the first time in more than two years.
China's gross domestic product (GDP) grew an annual 7.3 per cent in the third quarter, the slowest since the height of the global financial crisis in early 2009.