China: Trade unaffected by Lunar New Year, records strong expansion in January
February 12, 2014
In January, exports rose 10.6% over the same month last year, which was well above the 4.3% increase recorded in December and overshot market expectations of a meagre 0.1% increase. The strong expansion recorded in January surprised market analysts, as they had expected export figures to be dragged down by the week-long Lunar New Year holiday and the high base effect in January 2013, which had resulted from exporters overstating trade invoicing to bring money into the country. Although the overall January trade data seem to point to actual strength in line with increasing global demand, analysts warned that inflated invoices again played a role in January's robust export growth.
Imports expanded 10.0% annually in January, which was an acceleration over the 8.3% rise recorded in December. The expansion came in above market expectations of a 4.0% increase and marked the largest gain in six months.
The trade balance recorded a surplus of USD 31.9 billion in January, which was above the USD 28.0 billion surplus recorded in the same month last year. In addition, January's trade surplus exceeded market expectations of USD 23.54 billion. The 12-month moving sum of the trade surplus rose from USD 260 billion in December to USD 264 billion in January.
FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast panelists project that merchandise exports will grow 8.9% in 2014 (USD 2.4 trillion), while the trade surplus will reach USD 278 billion. For 2015, the panel expects exports to increase 9.2% and the trade surplus to widen to USD 283 billion.