IHS Markit rated China' export data in September will likely lead to a downward revision to the current export growth forecast, which stands at 0.9 percent in annual basis, said the analyst today (10/14) - Photo: Special

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – China’ General Administration of Customs on Thursday (02/14) reported the country’ exports and imports rose at a faster-than-expected rate in January. This showed another sign that the Chinese economy remained resilient despite growing external uncertainties.

Data report that China’ trade surplus widened sharply to US$39.16 billion in January 2019 from $18.42 billion in the same month a year earlier. In annual basis, exports increased by 9.1 percent while imports declined by 1.5 percent.

Exports grew unexpectedly by 9.1 percent from a year earlier in January, easily beating market estimates of a 3.2 percent fall and swinging from a 4.4 percent drop in a month earlier. The rebound in overseas sales came in amid signs of trade-talk progress and efforts from companies to ship out goods ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday.

The office said, China’ forged aluminium and aluminium product exports surged 25.5 percent year-on-year (YoY) to a record high of 552 million tons (MT) in January, up 6.2 percent from December’ revised figure of 520 MTs.

Sales of steel products grew 4.65 percent to 6.19 MTs YoY and was up 11.5 percent from the prior month’ totaled 5.55 MTs. Also, coal exports went up 0.28 percent YoY to 0.60 MTS and surged 94.2 percent from December’ 310,000 tons.

Sales of rice increased 2.1 percent from a year ago to 143 MTs, but tumbled 47.0 percent from the previous month’ 270 MTs. While imports decreased by 1.5 percent, far less than forecasts of a 10 percent contraction and after a 7.6 percent decline in December.

Purchases of soybean dropped 13.0 percent YoY to 7.38 tons in January, amid higher tariff imposed on shipments from the US. Still, when compared to December’ 5.72 MTs, soybean imports were up 29 percent.

Also, imports of iron ore declined by 9 percent YoY to 91.26 MTs but was up 5.3 percent from December’s 86.64 MT. Inbound shipments of steel products fell 0.9 percent YoY to 1.18 MTs, but increased 17.9 percent from the prior months’ one MTs.

In contrast, imports of forget copper expanded 14 percent YoY to the highest level since September 2018 of 479 MTs and was up 8.9 percent on the month from December’ 420 MTs. In addition, purchases of  copper concentrate went up 17.0 percent YoY to 1.90 MTs and advanced 29.8 percent month-on-month.

Reportedly, imports of crude oil grew 4.8 percent from a year earlier to 42.60 MTs but was down 2.7 percent from the prior months’ 43.78 MTs. Also, natural gas imports went up 26.2 percent YoY to 9.81 MTs and rose 6.3 percent from 9.23 MTs in December.

Inbound shipments of coal increased 20.5 percent from a year earlier to 33.50 MTs and surged 227.5 percent from December’ 10.23 MTs.

The trade surplus with the US, China’ largest export market, narrowed to $27.30 billion in January from $ 29.87 billion in December. Exports to the country shrank 2.4 percent year-on-year, while imports declined at a faster 41.2  percent, the data showed.

China’ trade with the European Union, ASEAN countries and Japan increased 17.6 percent, 7.8 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively, while trade with countries along the Belt and Road registered faster-than-average growth, with the combined trade volume standing at RMB770.8 billion, up 11.5 percent YoY.

Private enterprises played a bigger role, accounting for 42.3 percent of the total foreign trade, up three percentage points year on year. Despite mounting external uncertainties, Chinese officials believed the country is capable of maintaining stable trade growth in 2019.

China has vowed to cut taxes to a larger scale this year, which is expected to boost domestic demand and stabilize growth.

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com