China says exports and imports hit record highs in September


Workers stand at the port of Qingdao, Shandong province, China June 10, 2019.


BEIJING — China reported strong trade data in September as most business activity resumed in the world’s second-largest economy, following what was apparently the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.

For September, China’s imports surged 13.2% in U.S. dollar terms, according to official customs data on Tuesday. That was far above the 0.3% predicted by the Reuters’ poll.

Exports rose 9.9% from a year ago — close to analysts’ expectations of 10%, according to a Reuters poll.

The country imported and exported a record amount of goods in yuan-denominated terms in September, Reuters reported Tuesday, citing a spokesperson for the national customs agency.

In the third quarter, China’s exports rose 10.2% from a year ago to 5 trillion yuan ($742.9 billion), the agency said. Imports rose 4.3% to 3.88 trillion yuan during that time, according to the data.

Global demand for Chinese medical supplies helped boost exports in the last several months. China was the first country affected by the pandemic, and has since become the first major economy to resume most business activity.

Trade surplus with U.S.

The closely watched Chinese trade surplus with the U.S. narrowed to $30.75 billion in September — nearly $3.5 billion lower than August. The year-to-date total was $218.57 billion, according to customs data accessed through Wind Information.

Chinese imports of U.S. agricultural goods rose 44.4% in the first three quarters of the year from a year ago, to 91.39 billion yuan. Chinese exports of medical products to the U.S. rose 32.4% over that time to 20.13 billion yuan, while that of mobile phones fell 3.4% to 128.69 billion yuan.

China’s exports to the U.S. over the first nine months of the year rose 1.8% to 2.18 trillion yuan, while imports rose 2.8% to 640.86 billion yuan, or about $95 billion.

Analysts have pointed out that China is far from reaching its purchase agreements named in the phase one trade deal signed with the U.S. in January — buying at least $200 billion more over the next two years in U.S. goods and services relative to the 2017 level. The projected purchases include at least $32 billion more in agricultural products, with an unspecified amount of soybeans.

In order to fulfill the trade agreement, Washington, DC-based Peterson Institute for International Economics estimates China will need to buy a total of $172.7 billion American goods by the end of this year, as measured by China data.

CNBC’s Yen Nee Lee contributed to this report.