China’s exports unexpectedly surged in June, helping to underpin the economy despite signs that the recovery is starting to slow.
Export growth accelerated to 32.2 per cent in dollar terms in June from a year earlier, the customs administration said on Tuesday, overturning economists' expectations of a slowdown to 23 per cent.
Imports rose by 36.7 per cent, beating the median forecast of 29.5 per cent. That left a trade surplus of $51.5 billion for the month, the highest since January.
Global appetite for Chinese products, including medical goods and work-from-home equipment, helped to spur exports this year, along with rising prices.
However, there are emerging signs the momentum in the world's second-biggest economy could begin to moderate amid supply shortages and high shipping costs, as well as a pick-up in production capacity elsewhere.
“The surprise surge in exports is probably in large part due to rising commodity prices, as commodities such as iron ore soared and price pressures passed on from imports to exports,” said Zhou Hao, senior emerging markets economist at Commerzbank.
Export growth is expected to slow in the second half of the year because of a high base last year, he said.
Customs administration spokesman Li Kuiwen also pointed to slower growth in imports and exports for the rest of the year, while noting that full-year trade is still expected to register relatively fast expansion.
The surge in trade last month came despite a resurgence in coronavirus cases in southern China that had caused delays in shipments at some major ports for much of June.
Export growth to the US slowed to 17.8 per cent in June, while picking up strongly to Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea. China’s trade surplus with the US continued to increase, reaching $32.6bn last month.
Earlier, the customs administration reported trade in yuan figures, showing exports rose by 28.1 per cent in the first half of the year, compared to the previous year, while imports were up 25.9 per cent.