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China trade surplus shrinks to $18bn

Beijing, September 11, 2011

China's trade surplus fell sharply in August to $17.8 billion from $31.5 billion in July as exports pulled back from a record high and imports jumped, indicating that the Asian giant was feeling the pinch from weaker global growth.

China's exports rose 24.5 per cent in August from a year earlier, accelerating from the 20.4 per cent rise in July, the customs administration said on Saturday.

The export growth in the world's second-largest economy was stronger than expectations of 21.6 per cent.

But month-on-month figures showed exports cooled a bit in August, when debt worries in the United States and Europe fanned fears of a renewed global downturn.

In US dollar terms, China's exports totalled $173 billion in August, down from July's record high of $175 billion.

Imports grew 30.2 per cent in August over a year earlier, overshooting expectations for 21.5 per cent. Robust imports should comfort investors looking to China to pick up some slack in global demand as other major economies sputter.

That left the country with a trade surplus of $ 17.8 billion in August, down 43 percent from in July, when the surplus was $31.5 billion. Economists had expected a surplus of $25.1 billion for August.

'The European debt crisis and slowing US growth will be reflected in China's export data in the next few months. I expect Chinese export growth to be below 10 percent in the fourth quarter,' said Shen Jianguang, an economist with Mizuho Securities Asia in Hong Kong

'Strong import growth is driven by China's strong demand for consumer goods, luxury items, iron ore, crude oil, soy as well as corn,' he said.

Despite the quickening pace in August, China's export growth has slowed from the 37.7 per cent pace in January, suggesting China's economy is not immune to global headwinds.

Chinese exporters have tried to expand their market shares in developed economies and diversify into fast-growing emerging markets, though they face increased challenges from rising costs and a firmer yuan .

North America and Europe have generated less than 40 of China's overseas sales this year, down from 55 per cent in 2002, according to analysts at Macquarie.

The narrower trade surplus will help China's fight against inflation, Huang Guohua, an official at the customs agency, told state television.-Reuters




Tags: China | shrink | trade surplus |

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