Published: Thu, January 14, 2021
Economy | By

China 2020 exports up despite virus; surplus surges to $535 billion

China 2020 exports up despite virus; surplus surges to $535 billion

China posted a trade surplus of $78.17 billion in December.

Coal arrivals were 39.08 million tonnes last month, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Thursday, up 232.3% from 11.76 million tonnes in November and surging from only 2.77 million tonnes in December a year ago. Imports edged down 1.1% to just over $2 trillion.

China's exporters benefited from the relatively early reopening of its economy and demand for masks and other Chinese-made medical supplies.

In total, exports of medical equipment and medicines rose 31% past year compared to 2019, he said.

"Demand for China's goods may remain strong in the next few months with the recent surge in Covid infections in the US and Europe", according to Ding Shuang, chief China economist at Standard Chartered Plc in Hong Kong. Analysts in a Reuters poll had expected exports to grow 15% year-on-year last month. Imports of American goods were $1.6 billion, giving China a $3 billion surplus.

Chinese firms also exported nearly 100 billion-yuan worth of other personal protective equipment, Li said. "Although other export economies are likely to see a stronger 2021, the global recovery should still support China's export growth", said Iris Pang, ING's chief economist for China.

The world's two largest economies, which have imposed tit-for-tat tariffs in a bitter trade war, agreed on a Phase 1 trade agreement in January 2020, but significant tensions remain.

He said the record 2020 imports were due to state reserve stockpiling as well as China's quick recovery from the coronavirus epidemic that opened up an arbitrage between London and Shanghai copper prices.

China fell behind on meeting those commitments but started to catch up as demand rebounded. The onshore yuan strengthened 6.7% in 2020 - its first annual rise in three years.

Also in 2020, exports to Europe rose 6.7 percent to $39.1 billion despite anti-virus controls that shut down travel and business in major markets.

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