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China December export growth slows, surplus narrows

China | Jan 12, 2018 16:23
China’s trade growth cooled in December in a possible sign of weaker global and domestic demand, but last year’s total exports gained by 7.9 percent over 2016 while imports were up 15.9 percent.
December exports grew by 10.9 percent over a year earlier to US$231.7 billion, down from the previous month’s 12.3 percent growth, customs data showed today. Imports expanded by 4.5 percent to US$177.1 billion, down from November’s 17.7 percent gain.
The politically volatile global trade surplus stood at US$422.5 billion, down from US$486 billion in 2016. (Pictured, shipments move through a port in Qingdao in eastern Shandong province).
"Downside risks remain, in particular from more forceful U.S. trade restrictions on Chinese exports,” Louis Kuijs of Oxford Economics said in a report. Strength in Chinese exports "is bound to add to U.S.-China trade tensions,” he said.
Chinese imports grew more slowly than exports for the first time since mid-2016, "reflecting the diverging prospects for growth in China and the rest of the world,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report. They are "a sign that domestic demand may have weakened at the end of last year,” he said.
Chinese trade has been unexpectedly strong, contrary to forecasts that economic growth will cool as Beijing tightens controls on credit to slow a rise in debt.
The International Monetary Fund is forecasting 2017 economic growth, due to be reported next week, at just under 6.8 percent. It expects that to decline to 6.5 percent this year, though that still will be among the strongest of any major country.


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