China: External sector picks up at the end of the year
January 10, 2013
Exports improved in December after moderating sharply in November, signalling renewed momentum in the world's second largest economy. In December, exports rose 14.1% over the same month the year before, which was considerably above the 2.9% rise seen in the previous month. In addition, the print overshot market expectations that had shipments increasing 5.0% and marked, in fact, the largest monthly gain since May 2012. As a result of the monthly reading, in the full year 2012 exports grew 7.9% over the same period the year before, which is, nevertheless, well below the 20.3% rise tallied in 2011.
Meanwhile, imports expanded 6.0% over the same month the previous year (November: 0.0% year-on-year). The reading came in above market expectations of a 3.5% rise and represents the fastest growth rate in six months. As a result, imports expanded 4.3% in 2012, only a fraction of the 25.0% rise observed in 2011.
The trade balance reached a USD 31.6 billion surplus in December, nearly doubling the USD 16.5 billion surplus seen in the same month the year before. Accordingly, the trade surplus rose from USD 155 billion in 2011 to USD 231 billion in 2012 - the largest since 2008.
Author: Ricardo Aceves, Senior Economist