BEIJING (AFP) – Export growth in China lost some steam in November as holiday demand from abroad faded, official data showed Tuesday, but demand for overseas fuel pushed up imports to spike above expectations.
Strong exports have helped to boost growth in the world’s second-largest economy since mid-2020, with China containing domestic outbreaks through tough lockdowns and mass testing — after the coronavirus was first detected in the central city of Wuhan.
Despite recent power outages caused by emissions-reduction targets, the surging price of coal, and supply shortages, factories kept the goods flowing and the power crisis has been winding down.
But experts have warned that the export boom is likely to fade as the world gradually returns to normalcy.
In November, exports rose 22 percent on-year, better than analysts expected but below the 27.1 percent growth clocked in October, according to the latest customs data.
A recent report by ING said Chinese exports likely slowed ”given that most orders for western holiday demand have been fulfilled”.
Imports, however, rose an unexpected 31.7 percent — well above the 21.5 percent increase tipped by a Bloomberg consensus poll.
”The surprisingly high number comes from contributions of coal, natural gas and crude oil imports… it’s basically to meet the domestic demand for energy,” said Zhaopeng Xing, senior China strategist at ANZ Research.
Given that China still has limited energy capacity and will need time to build it up, energy-related imports will continue in the coming months, Xing told AFP.
With most other countries opting for a strategy of living with Covid-19 and reopening economies, demand for protective gear and work-from-home products could shift to services, Nomura chief China economist Lu Ting earlier said.
On Tuesday, official data showed that China’s total trade surplus was $71.7 billion in November, down from $84.5 billion the month before.