Chinese export, import growth slow in April as rebound cools

Geneva Matthews
May 9, 2017

China has reported its exports expanded for a second straight month in April but at a slower pace while import growth also decelerated as demand cooled both at home and overseas.

The value of imports into China increased by 11.9% compared to a 20.3% increase in March, while exports rose 8.0% compared to 16.4% in March.

In the first four months of the year, the trade balance surplus was $103.3 billion.

The trade surplus of 262.3 billion yuan, up 0.6 percent year on year, increased from 164.3 billion yuan in March.

"Commodity prices, China's iron ore inventory pile-up and credit tightening may weigh on China's import outlook in the near term", said ANZ's Betty Wang in a note to clients. According to an estimate by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce released last week, imports and exports are expected to stabilize and improve in the near future.

At the same time, imports logged a double-digit growth of 11.9% versus the expected expansion of 18% and around 20.3% rise in March.

But they added that the pipeline of electronic products in the global supply chain is still likely to keep China's export outlook stable during 2017.

President Trump, last month, launched a trade investigation against Beijing and others for exporting cheap steel into U.S. market.

China's trade surplus has been a point of contention with the U.S. Since the early-April summit between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping in Florida, trade tensions have eased, reducing the prospect for punitive U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods.

Growth in inbound shipments will continue to face headwinds, however, the economist said.

China usually buys large volumes of soybeans from May to August.

Last month, Trump launched a trade probe against China and other exporters of cheap steel into the US market.

In U.S. dollar terms, exports went up 8 percent in April, nearly on par with the 8.2-percent gain registered in the first quarter.

Finance leaders of Japan, China and South Korea last week agreed to resist all forms of protectionism in a trilateral meeting, taking a stronger stand than major G20 economies against the protectionist policies advocated by Trump.

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