China's trade volumes creep up in April

Thursday 08 May 2014 11.49
China's exports up by 0.9% in April, while imports increased by 0.8%
China's exports up by 0.9% in April, while imports increased by 0.8%

China's exports and imports rose marginally in April, rebounding from sharp declines the month before amid a growth slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.

Exports crept up 0.9% year-on-year to $188.54 billion, the General Administration of Customs announced, while imports increased 0.8% to $170.09 billion.

This resulted in a surplus of $18.45 billion for the month. 

The figures come a month after Customs reported that China's trade volumes fell dramatically in March, which analysts blamed on the continued impact of fake reporting of exports seen in early 2013. 

In March imports slumped 11.3% year-on-year to $162.4 billion while exports fell 6.6% to $170.1 billion, for a trade surplus of $7.7 billion. 

China had recorded an unexpected trade deficit of almost $23 billion in February, which authorities blamed on the Lunar New Year holiday season. That result was China's first monthly deficit in 11 months. 

China's economy grew 7.4% in the first three months of 2014, weaker than the 7.7% in the last quarter of 2013 and the worst since a similar 7.4% expansion in the third quarter of 2012. 

Concerns over China's growth outlook have increased this year after a series of weaker-than-expected statistics, though trade distortions have partially clouded the situation. 

The trade figures come after mixed readings on Chinese manufacturing. 

A private purchasing managers index (PMI) survey released on Monday by British bank HSBC showed the sector contracted for a fourth consecutive month in April. In contrast, last week the government's official PMI remained in marginal expansion. 

China's leadership says it wants to make private demand the key driver for the country's economic growth, moving away from over-reliance on huge and often wasteful investment projects that have girded decades of expansion. 

Such a transformation is expected to result in growth that is slower but seen as stable and more sustainable in the long run. China in March set its annual growth target for this year at about 7.5%, the same as last year. 

But officials, including Premier Li Keqiang, have been quick to stress that the target is flexible - seen as a hint it may not be achieved.