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China’s imports, exports surge as global economy reopens

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s imports grew at their fastest pace this year in September, while exports extended their strong gains as more trading partners lifted coronavirus restrictions in a further boost to the world’s second-biggest economy.

FILE PHOTO: Cranes and containers are seen at the Yantian port in Shenzhen, following the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, Guangdong province, China May 17, 2020. REUTERS/Martin Pollard

Exports in August rose 9.9% from a year earlier, customs data showed on Tuesday, broadly in line with analysts’ expectations for 10% growth and up from a solid 9.5% increase in August.

The strong trade performance suggests Chinese exporters are making a brisk recovery from the coronavirus pandemic’s hit to overseas orders. As the global economy restarts, Chinese firms are rushing to grab market share as their rivals grapple with reduced manufacturing capacity.

China’s factory activity has also picked up as international trading gradually resumes.

But some analysts warn exports could peak soon as demand for Chinese-made protective gear recedes and the base effect of this year’s massive declines wears off.

Imports surged 13.2%, returning to growth from a slump of 2.1% in August and much stronger than expectations for a 0.3% increase.

Graphic – China’s trade recovery:

The country’s trade surplus for September stood at $37 billion, compared with an expected $58.00 billion surplus forecast in the poll and a surplus of $58.93 billion in August.

Already heightened U.S.-China tensions are expected to escalate ahead of the U.S. presidential election. China remains well behind on its pledge to boost purchases of U.S. goods under an agreement that was launched in February.

China’s trade surplus with the United States narrowed to $30.75 billion in September from $34.24 billion in August.

Top U.S. and Chinese trade officials reaffirmed their commitment to a Phase 1 trade deal in a phone call in August.

However, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue cast doubt earlier this month on the likelihood of China meeting its commitment to purchase enough agricultural products as promised in its Phase 1 trade deal.

Additional reporting by Colin Qian; Editing by Sam Holmes

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