• By The Financial District


China’s imports surged in September, with the customs bureau announcing the strongest import growth since December, sending monthly inbound shipments to an all-time high of $203 billion, Finbarr Bermingham and Cissy Zhou reported for South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Imports grew by 13.2 per cent last month from a year earlier, having been forecast to grow by just 0.4 per cent. This was up from a 2.1 per cent contraction in August and marks a surprising turnaround. Exports grew by 9.9 per cent in September compared with a year earlier, up slightly from 9.5 per cent growth in August. This was the fourth successive expansion but was slightly lower than the median result of a poll of economists undertaken by Bloomberg, which had forecast 10 per cent growth.

Bilateral trade with the United States shot up in September, with China’s American imports rising 24 per cent from a year earlier to $13.2 billion and exports surging 20.36 per cent to $43.96 billion. The trade surplus with the US stood at $30.75 billion, an 18.86 per cent rise from September 2019, but down from August’s US$34.1 billion. The surge in imports was partly powered by food shipments. China’s grain imports rose 35 per cent from a year earlier, while inbound meat shipments were up 40.5 per cent. Soybean shipments rose 17.6 per cent compared with September 2019 to US$3.7 billion.

China’s domestic food supply has been hit by flooding and inclement weather, while it has also been purchasing huge volumes of American farm goods over recent months in an effort to get closer to the import targets laid out in the phase one trade deal. China’s overall trade surplus dropped sharply to $37 billion in September, down from US$58.93 billion in August. The growth in exports was the strongest performance since March 2019, when exports expanded by 14.2 per cent. It comes amid rising consumption abroad as markets reopened from coronavirus shutdowns, boosting China’s shipments.