China Exports Surge Ahead of Trade Friction Risk With Trump

Updated on
  • January exports rise 7.9%, fastest pace in almost two years
  • China says exports to U.S. increased 9% in dollar terms

China's January Exports Rose 7.9% in Dollar Terms

China’s overseas shipments rebounded in January with exports to the U.S. rising, just as it braces for potential trade frictions under Donald Trump’s presidency.

Key Points

  • Exports rose 7.9 percent from a year earlier in dollar terms
  • Imports increased 16.7 percent
  • Trade surplus was $51.4 billion
  • Exports gained 15.9 percent in local-currency terms
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Big Picture

Trump -- who has accused China of unfair trade practices -- is assembling a cabinet that includes critics of the world’s largest exporter. Its shipments to the U.S. rose 9 percent from a year ago in dollar terms. Policy makers are surveying Chinese companies this month to evaluate the potential impact should the U.S. label the nation a currency manipulator and imposes punitive tariffs, according to people familiar with the issue. Rising demand from Asia and Europe may help counter risk from the U.S.

Economist Takeaways

“The exports outlook for China is good, except for the potential risk of a Sino-U.S. trade war,” said Shen Jianguang, chief Asia economist at Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd. in Hong Kong. The strong performance in January “is related to the global pick-up in growth in the U.S., Europe and also emerging economies. Imports are strong, which is understandable, as Chinese government stimulus has boosted domestic demand.”

"The earlier arrival of Lunar New Year this year by almost a week seems to have encouraged more activity concentrating in January," said Raymond Yeung, chief greater China economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. in Hong Kong.

The Details

  • Exports to Japan rose 9.8 percent, 5.8 percent to the European Union
  • Imports from U.S. rose 27.3 percent
  • Imports of coal, crude oil rising

— With assistance by Kevin Hamlin, Miao Han, Yinan Zhao, and Jeff Kearns

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