Chinese exports exceed expectations


China’s exports exceeded forecasts in February, with overseas shipments up 21.8 per cent from a year earlier, as improving global demand, especially from the US and southeast Asia, contributed to recovery in the world’s second biggest economy.

The data was somewhat skewed in a month that had four fewer working days than last year because of lunar new year, and by the extra day in 2012’s leap year, but the export growth was seen as particularly strong, and the broader trend was judged positive.

The data comes as China’s new leadership is holding its annual parliament, the National People’s Congress, which is formulating policy to drive China’s recovery from its slowest level of economic growth in 13 years.

Exports to the US edged up from 15 per cent year on year in January to 16 per cent in February, the customs administration said on its website yesterday. Export growth to the EU accelerated markedly, from 5 per cent year on year in January to 17 per cent year on year in February.

Chinese new year traditionally hits imports, which declined by 15 per cent compared to February last year.

Mark Williams at Capital Economics noted how the recent acceleration in domestic activity has done little to boost commodity import demand.

“Most of the support is coming from other emerging markets. The pace of export growth to these regions is now not far short of pre-crisis rates. But the latest data suggest that demand from major developed economies, and Europe in particular, has recovered markedly,” he said.