China's trade boom continues in May on strong global demand

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) – China’s exports continued to surge in May, although at a slower pace than the previous month, fueled by strong global demand as more economies around the world opened up. Imports soared, boosted by rising commodity prices.

Exports grew 27.9 per cent in US dollar terms in May from a year earlier, the customs administration said on Monday (June 7), weaker than forecast and below the pace in April, but still well above historical growth rates.

Imports soared 51.1 per cent, the fastest pace since March 2010, compared with the 53.5 per cent projected in the survey. The trade surplus was US$45.5 billion (S$60.25 billion) for the month.

Overseas demand for Chinese goods remained strong as economies from the UK to the US emerge from months of lockdown, fueling consumer spending. South Korea’s exports, a bellwether for world trade, surged the most since 1988 in May, a sign that the global recovery is strengthening.

China’s exports will keep up their good momentum in the first half of the year, Gao Feng, a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said last week.

A resurgence in Covid-19 cases in India and South-east Asia has disrupted production in those countries, possibly driving more export orders to China. It’s also fueled demand from those countries for Chinese-made medical goods, like personal protective equipment, according to economists at Citigroup.

Higher commodity prices and last year’s low base continued to drive up imports. The economy’s strong recovery from the pandemic has fueled demand for metals such as copper and iron ore. At the same time, their prices have hit records, pushing up costs for businesses. The government has recently ratcheted up its campaign to tame prices and curb inflation pressures.

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The data may have also been distorted by fewer working days in May due to the five-day Labor Day holiday.


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