Xmas break for exporters

China’s export growth unexpectedly surged last month as suppliers likely boosted orders ahead of the year-end shopping season, offsetting any port disruptions due to fresh outbreaks of the Delta virus.

Exports rose 25.6 percent in dollar terms from a year ago to a record US$294.3 billion (HK$2.3 trillion), more than US$10 billion above any previous month. Imports grew 33.1 percent to US$236 billion, also the highest level ever, leaving a trade surplus of US$58.3 billion, the customs administration said yesterday.

The pickup came despite disruptions at China’s second-largest port last month due to fresh virus outbreaks, which caused congestion and pushed up shipping costs. Global demand remained resilient, especially from the US and Europe, as retailers probably brought forward their Christmas shopping orders.

“The hot season for Christmas came earlier than previous years,” said Xing Zhaopeng, senior China strategist at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group in Shanghai. New products from Apple created demand, while Delta virus outbreaks in southeast Asia probably caused orders to be diverted to China, he said. “It will remain strong before November,” he said.

The top three exports by value were electronics, high-tech products, and clothing and clothing accessories, while the top imports were electronics and high-tech products.

Signs of a slowdown are starting to emerge globally as Covid cases rise, and officials in China have warned of weaker export growth for the rest of the year.

That came as the People’s Bank of China said foreign exchange reserves stood at US$3.23 trillion at the end of August, a monthly decrease of US$3.774 billion, reversing the previous month’s upward trend.

Gold reserves were US$113.689 billion as of August, down by US$683 million. In terms of ounces, however, the reserves were 62.64 million ounces, unchanged for 24 straight months.

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