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China: Trade surplus soars as exports expand at double-digit rate in February

March 8, 2015

In February, exports jumped 48.3% over the same month last year, which largely contrasted the 3.3% drop tallied in January. The print exceeded the 14.0% increase that market analysts had expected and represented the fastest growth since May 2010. Imports plummeted 20.5% annually in February, which was below the 19.9% decline tallied in January. The print exceeded the 10.0% drop that market analysts had expected and represented the steepest decline since May 2009.

As a result of the underperformance in imports and the astonishing expansion in exports, the trade balance swung to a USD 60.6 billion surplus in February (January: USD 60.0 billion surplus) from the USD 22.5 billion deficit recorded in the same month last year. The print overshot the USD 6.0 billion surplus that market analysts had expected and represented the largest surplus on record. The 12-month moving sum of the trade surplus jumped from USD 409 billion in January to USD 492 billion in February, which represented the highest print on record.

Although February’s print mostly reflected the timing of the Lunar New Year, the disappointing import drop was mainly driven by falling commodity prices and faltering domestic demand. On the other hand, February’s stellar export growth suggests that the global economy is slowly recovering.

FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast panelists project that merchandise exports will grow 6.7% in 2015, while imports will expand 5.2%, thus driving the trade balance to record a surplus of USD 425 billion. For 2016, the panel expects exports to increase 5.6% and imports to rise 6.1%, while the trade surplus will widen to USD 451 billion.


Author: Ricard Torné, Head of Economic Research

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China Trade Chart


China Trade12m February 2015

Note: 12-month sum of trade balance in USD billion and annual variation of the 12-month sum of exports and imports in %.
Source: General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China and FocusEconomics calculations.


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