China December exports rise 18.1% y/y, imports up 6.5%, top forecasts
14 January, 2021, 19:03
China posted a trade surplus of $78.17 billion in December - the highest reading on Refinitiv records going back to 2007.
China imported 9.91 million tonnes of meat in 2020, customs data showed on Thursday, as the world's biggest consumer of meat stocked up on proteins after a further plunge in its pork output.
China's export dominance during the coronavirus pandemic is best reflected by the item that's become essential in protecting against the virus: face masks.
Exports surged 18.1 per cent in December over a year earlier to United States dollars 281.9 billion.
"Demand for China's goods may remain strong in the next few months with the recent surge in Covid infections in the USA and Europe", according to Ding Shuang, chief China economist at Standard Chartered Plc in Hong Kong.
"The current strength of exports is unlikely to be sustained indefinitely", said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report. "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. Imports of American goods were $1.6 billion, giving China a $3 billion surplus.
China exported 224.2 billion masks from March to December, Li added, almost 40 masks for every person outside of China. "The main risk to China's trade outlook is on technology exports", ING's Pang said.
The election of Joe Biden to succeed President Donald Trump has raised questions about the future of Trump's fight with Beijing.
On a full-year basis, concentrate imports missed a new record, with shipments totalling 21.77 million tonnes amid tight mine supply due to coronavirus-related curbs even as China's copper smelting capacity continued to expand. The two governments agreed to postpone further planned tariff hikes on each other's goods, but penalties on billions of dollars of imports remain. China is expected to be the only major economy to have grown in 2020. The onshore yuan jumped 6.7 per cent in 2020 - its first annual rise in three years.