Date
18 October 2017
China’s stronger imports will fuel optimism that demand is picking up in the world’s second largest economy. Photo: Bloomberg
China’s stronger imports will fuel optimism that demand is picking up in the world’s second largest economy. Photo: Bloomberg

China posts first trade deficit in three years as imports surge

China posted its first trade deficit in three years last month as imports surged more than expected amid stronger global commodity prices and exports fell slightly.

According to figures released by the Customs bureau Wednesday, imports soared 38.1 percent in February in dollar terms from a year ago, compared with 16.7 percent growth in the previous month.

The higher import bill, at US$129.2 billion, came as prices of oil, ores and other commodities had risen on international markets.

Meanwhile, exports dropped 1.3 percent from a year earlier to $120.1 billion, compared with 7.9 percent growth in January.

Economists believe overseas shipments fell in February as there had been a rush to fill orders in the previous month before the Lunar New Year holiday, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The exports and imports figures yielded a trade deficit of US$9.15 billion, the first monthly deficit for the country since February 2014, when there was a trade gap of nearly US$23 billion.

Economic data during the first two months of the year tend to be volatile because the Lunar New Year holiday’s timing shifts slightly from year to year, the Journal noted.

Also, trade data in the past have been skewed by Chinese companies inflating declared import values on shipping documents to circumvent tight controls on moving capital offshore.

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