China’s export growth rate quickens in January amid tension with Washington

09 Feb 2018


China's export growth rate quickened in January as trade tension with Washington increased even as imports surged and factories stocked up ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday.

Exports were up 11.1 per cent as against a year earlier to $200.5 billion, up from December's 10.9 per cent growth, as per trade data yesterday. Exports rose 36.9 per cent to $180.1 billion, up from  4.5 per cent of previous month.

China's politically sensitive trade surplus with the US widened by 2.3 per cent from a year ago to $21.9 billion, even as its global trade gap narrowed by 60 per cent to $20.3 billion.

"Export growth remained robust in January, indicating steady global demand momentum," said Louis Kuijs of Oxford Economics in a report.

"While we expect the favourable external setting to continue to support China's exports, rising US-China trade friction remains a key risk," said Kuijs. "We expect the US administration to scale up on measures impeding imports from China."

The country's steady accumulation of multi-billion dollar trade surpluses with the US has led to demands for import controls.

Meanwhile, cheap Chinese goods ranging from household appliances to solar modules being are now subject to increased duties in the US.

Further, even as serious doubts are being raised over the China growth story maintaining its momentum, in the west, the majority opinion held closer to Beijing or Shanghai remains positive.

China's generation-long economic miracle will continue to run, though at a slower pace than the average gross domestic product growth of almost 10 per cent a year since the early 1980s remains the dominant sentiment. ''I find it scary how many self-proclaimed US-based China experts with real influence have barely lived in China, barely speak Chinese and barely have a clue …'' tweeted Shaun Rein, Shanghai-based founder and managing director of China Market Research Group and author of The War for China's Wallet, on 26 December.

Taking to Twitter again, he said the ''same tired group of China's watchers will predict China's collapse for the 40th year in a row… and they'll be wrong for the 40th time but western media will keep quoting them breathlessly as experts.''

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