China trade surges in first two months of 2024

By AFP   March 6, 2024 | 11:03 pm PT
China trade surges in first two months of 2024
A worker at an EV factory in China, 2022. Photo by Reuters
China's exports sharply accelerated in the first two months of 2024, official figures showed Thursday, providing policymakers a bright spot as they battle to revive the world's second-largest economy.

Overseas shipments have long served as a key driver of the country's economic growth, providing vast amounts of jobs for the manufacturing sector.

In January and February combined, exports surged 7.1% on-year, the General Administration of Customs said, smashing the 1.9% forecast in a Bloomberg survey of analysts.

The huge rise was partially attributed to the low base of comparison with January-February last year, when China emerged from its strict zero-Covid measures.

Exports have been increasing since November, after six straight months of contraction.

However, concerns about the global economic outlook owing to sticky inflation and elevated interest rates continue to subdue demand for Chinese goods.

Commerce Minister Wang Wentao acknowledged the recent rebound Wednesday on the sidelines of a major political gathering in Beijing and stressed that "the overall trend is upward".

But he warned that March would likely see a decline.

China's trade performance has also been weighed in recent years by heightened geopolitical tensions with Washington, spurring Western firms to look at reducing their dependence on the country.

Imports also rose 3.5% in January-February -- much sharper than the 0.2% increase recorded in December.

Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had anticipated an increase of 2.0%.

China previously saw imports contract for 11 months before briefly rebounding in October.

And despite trade between China and Russia soaring to record heights in 2023, imports from Russia were less strong in the first two months.

Shipments from Russia gained 6.7% on-year, the weakest performance since April 2021.

China's trade surplus amounted to $125.1 billion in the first two months, having come in at $75.3 billion in December.

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