China exports fall, trade surplus hits record
CHINA'S monthly trade surplus rose 88 per cent to reach a record 370 billion yuan (S$80 billion) last month, data showed yesterday, as imports dropped sharply on lower commodity prices and sluggish domestic demand.
Exports from the world's second-largest economy also fell, by 3.3 per cent year-on-year, the customs administration said on its website.
Imports fell 19.9 per cent from a year earlier, the largest drop in more than five years.
The country's trade surplus, long a source of tensions with its trading partners, rose above a previous all-time monthly high of US$54.5 billion (S$73.7 billion) posted in November.
Economists said the figures reflected continued downward pressures on China's economy, which grew at its slowest pace in 24 years last year and is expected to slow further this year.
But they also warned that the data may have been affected by short-term factors, such as a crackdown on commodity financing and the later date of China's Chinese New Year holiday this year.
"China's manufacturing sector is under great pressures as both external and domestic demand remains sluggish," Li-Gang Liu, Greater China economist for Australian bank ANZ, said in a statement.
"Yesterday's poor trade data could add depreciation pressures on the (yuan) exchange rate," he added.