CHINA’S 2020 EXPORTS RISE; SURPLUS REACHES $535B
China’s exports rose in 2020 despite pressure from the coronavirus and a tariff war with Washington, boosting its politically volatile trade surplus to $535 billion, one of the highest ever reported, Joe McDonald reported for the Associated Press (AP).
Exports increased 3.6% over 2019 to $2.6 trillion, an improvement on the previous year’s 0.5% gain, customs data showed Thursday. Imports edged down 1.1% to just over $2 trillion, but growth was strong in the second half after China became the first major economy to revive following the pandemic.
Exports to the United States rose 7.9% over 2019 to $45.2 billion despite tariff hikes on most Chinese goods by the Trump administration in a feud with Beijing over technology and security. Imports of US goods rose 9.8% to $13.5 billion, boosted by Beijing’s promise as part of a truce in that conflict to buy more American soybeans, natural gas and other exports.
China’s exporters benefited from the relatively early reopening of its economy and demand for masks and other Chinese-made medical supplies. Exporters have taken market share from foreign competitors that face still anti-virus curbs, but that advantage is expected to fade as coronavirus vaccines are rolled out and other economies return to normal. Demand for medical goods also is receding
“The current strength of exports is unlikely to be sustained indefinitely,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report. He said imports “are likely to drop back” as the government reduces high spending and other support for economic activity.
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