China export growth slows in November but imports accelerate

BEIJING (REUTERS) – China’s exports growth lost steam in November, pressured by a strong yuan, weakening demand and higher costs, but import growth accelerated and came in well above expectations, pointing to stronger domestic activity.

Exports rose 22 per cent on-the-year and imports jumped 31.7 per cent in November, customs data showed on Tuesday (Dec 7).

Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast November exports would increase 19 per cent after jumping 27.1 per cent the previous month.

Imports were forecast to have risen 19.8 per cent, according to the poll, versus a 20.6 per cent gain in October.

China posted a trade surplus of US$71.72 billion (S$98.2 billion) last month, compared with the poll’s forecast for a US$82.75 billion surplus. China reported an US$84.54 billion surplus in October.

The data comes a day after China’s central bank announced a cut to the amount of cash that banks must hold in reserve, its second such move this year, to bolster slowing economic growth.

The country has staged an impressive rebound from the pandemic but there are signs momentum is flagging. Power shortages, regulatory crackdowns and debt troubles in the property sector are weighing on China’s recovery.

Analysts expect more supportive policy measures in the coming months.

A private sector survey showed factory activity fell in November, hit by higher prices and subdued demand.

China’s factory gate inflation hit a 26-year high in October as coal prices soared amid a power crunch in the country’s industrial heartland.

No cases of the Omicron Covid-19 variant have been reported in China to date, but its emergence could add pressure to the strict zero-tolerance policy on coronavirus cases and increase logistical challenges for exporters, say analysts.

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