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China posts record trade surplus in Jan as Exports, Imports slump

Date 10-February-2015
Subject China posts record trade surplus in Jan as Exports, Imports slump

Beijing : China’s monthly trade surplus rose 88% to reach a record 367 billion yuan ($59 billion) in January, as the country’s imports plunged and exports fell sharply on sluggish demand, data said .

Exports from the world’s second-largest economy fell 3.2% year-on-year to 1.23 trillion yuan ($197 billion), China’s custom’s administration said on its website. China’s imports fell 19.7% from a year earlier to 860 billion yuan ($138 billion), the largest drop in more than five years, which analysts said was caused in part by low commodity prices.

The country’s trade surplus, long a source of tensions with its trading partners, rose above a previous all-time monthly high of $54.47 billion posted in November. Economists said the “poor” figures reflected continued downward pressures on China’s economy, which grew at its slowest pace in 24 years last year and is expected to slow further in 2015. But they also warned that the figures may have been affected by short-term factors, such as a crackdown on commodity financing and the later date of China’s Lunar New Year holiday this year.

The latest figures come after China’s trade surplus soared 47.2% in 2014 to a record $382.46 billion. China’s huge trade surpluses were long a source of friction between Beijing and Washington, as the workshop of the world pumped out manufactured goods and US debt mounted, but the issue has receded in more recent years. Official data showed last month that China’s economy grew 7.4% in 2014, its weakest for almost a quarter of a century, and slower than the 7.7% in 2013.“China’s manufacturing sector is under great pressures as both external and domestic demand remains sluggish,” Li-Gang Liu, Greater China economist for ANZ, said in a statement. “Today’s poor trade data could add depreciation pressures on the RMB exchange rate,” he added. China’s exports to the EU fell by 4.4% year on year in January, while imports fell by 6.9%, the customs data said. The fall in Chinese imports was led by a decline in imported iron ore and crude oil, the data showed, in part reflecting recent low commodity prices. China’s leaders are trying to pull off a managed slowdown of the Asian giant to make growth more sustainable and led by consumer spending as in other major economies. The slowdown in China’s economy last year prompted some intervention by authorities to establish a floor on growth even as they tout a retooling of the country’s economic model that is expected to result in further slowdowns in the years ahead. Central bank announcement on cutting the reserve requirement ratio came on the heels of official survey results released last weekend showing China’s manufacturing activity contracted for the first time in more than two years, signalling further downward pressure on the economy. China’s premier Li Keqiang has said publicly that weaker GDP growth is no problem so long as its quality remains high and job creation remains resilient.

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