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China's August exports grow 24.5 pct; surplus narrows

(Xinhua)

13:56, September 10, 2011

BEIJING, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- China's exports surged 24.5 percent year-on-year in August to reach 173.31 billion U.S. dollars, the General Administration of Customs announced Saturday.

Imports expanded by 30.2 percent to 155.56 billion U.S. dollars, a record high since March this year, according to figures released by the customs authority.

Trade surplus for the month stood at 17.75 billion U.S. dollars, down from July's 31.48 billion U.S. dollars.

Exports and imports in the first eight months amounted to 2.35 trillion U.S. dollars, representing a 25.4-percent increase year-on-year.

From January to August, exports totaled 1.22 trillion U.S. dollars, up 23.6 percent; imports totaled 1.13 trillion U.S. dollars, up 27.5 percent.

Trade surplus during the period shrank to 92.73 billion U.S. dollars, down 10 percent compared to a year ago.

In the first eight months, trade between China and the European Union (EU) rose 21.8 percent to 372.14 billion U.S. dollars. The EU remained China's largest trading partner.

Trade between China and the United States came in second at 285.65 billion U.S. dollars, up 17.8 percent.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) block was China's third largest trading partner with bilateral trade totaling 234.61 billion U.S. dollars, up 26.6 percent.

China recorded a trade deficit of 15.67 billion U.S. dollars with the ASEAN during the period, up 69.6 percent.

Bilateral trade between China and Japan grew at a slower pace of 18.8 percent and reached 221.98 billion U.S. dollars during the period. China also saw a trade deficit of 33.72 billion U.S. dollars with Japan, down 7 percent year-on-year.

China's exports of traditional commodities increased steadily while exports of machinery and textiles remained stable. Machine equipment exports totaled 227.63 billion U.S. dollars in the first eight months, up 16.5 percent; garment exports totaled 100.2 billion U.S. dollars, up 24.8 percent.

Chinese economist Cui Li with the Royal Bank of Scotland said China's exports competitiveness remained undiminished despite fast-rising labor costs, because products are improving and production efficiency is strengthening.

Although exports grew faster in August than in the previous two months, experts were concerned that the pace may slow due to sluggish economies and worsening debt crises in the world's major economies.

Senior economist Wang Tao with UBS Securities predicated that export growth may dwindle in the coming months amid faltering global economic recovery, noting that China's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) showed that the sub-index for new export orders fell sharply to 48.3 percent last month from 50.4 percent in July.

According to the ISM report on manufacturing earlier this month, the U.S. PMI registered 50.6 percent, a decrease of 0.3 percentage points from July.

Furthermore, experts also worried that surging imports may be bringing inflation into the domestic market from overseas. Figures showed that imports in August expanded at a remarkably high rate of 30.2 percent, a vast leap from the 22.9 percent growth in July and 19.3 percent in June.

The data from the customs authority also showed that the nation imported a total of 450 million tonnes of iron ore in the first eight months, up 10.6 percent. The import price averaged 164.4 U.S. dollars per tonne, up 37.4 percent year-on-year.

China also imported 104 million tonnes of coal during the period. While the import volume was down 1.4 percent, the import price jumped 11.9 percent, averaging 111.5 U.S. dollars per tonne. The price of imported soybeans also surged 31.2 percent.

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