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China’s exports surge from 2020 lockdown

As demand booms.
Image: Paul Yeung, Bloomberg
China’s exports surged in the first two months of the year, reflecting strong global demand for manufactured goods and figures partly skewed by the low base in 2020 when the economy was in lockdown.
  • Exports jumped 60.6% in dollar terms in the January-February period from a year earlier, data from the General Administration of Customs showed Sunday, well above the 40% median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists. In February alone, exports more than doubled from a year ago
  • Imports climbed 22.2% in the first two months of the year from a year ago, compared with a 16% gain predicted in the survey. The trade surplus reached $103.25 billion in the period

Key insights

  • The first two months are normally volatile for China’s economic activity because of the week-long Lunar New Year holiday. This year’s figures are even more distorted compared with 2020, when factories and businesses were shut to contain the coronavirus outbreak
  • Exports have boomed in recent months because of surging global demand for medical equipment and work-from-home devices. That’s helped to underpin China’s V-shaped recovery from the pandemic, with its economy the only major one to expand in 2020
  • The customs agency said the strong trade data in the first two months of the year reflects improving demand in major trading partners like the U.S. and Europe, a domestic recovery that’s fuelling import growth, and base effects from last year’s slump
  • Trade prospects for the full year will hinge on the global recovery and the tone of relations between China and the new U.S. administration. Economists like Macquarie Group’s Larry Hu predict a moderation in China’s export growth later this year as developed countries begin ramping up production

Get more

  • The trade surplus with the U.S. reached $51.3 billion in the first two months of the year. Trade with the U.S. surged 81.3% in the period from a year earlier. For a breakdown of China’s main trading partners, click on this table
  • The customs agency started releasing combined data for the first two months of the year in 2020, aligning with the National Bureau of Statistics’s practice, due to disruptions caused by the Lunar Year Year
© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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