China’s February exports grew at a record pace from a year earlier when Covid battered the world’s second-biggest economy, customs data showed yesterday, while imports rose less sharply.
Exports in dollar terms skyrocketed 154.9pc in February compared with a year earlier, while imports gained 17.3pc, the most since October 2018. The data did not include figures for January alone.
In the January-February period, exports jumped 60.6pc from a year earlier, when lockdowns to contain the pandemic paralysed the country’s economic activity. That exceeded the forecast of analysts in a Reuters poll for a 38.9pc surge.
Strong exports, which benefited from China’s success in largely containing the public health crisis, have helped fuel the country’s recovery from a pandemic-induced paralysis.
The surge was driven by a rebound in foreign demand, customs said in a statement on its website, citing improvements in manufacturing industries in the European Union and the United States, and their increased imports of Chinese products thanks to fiscal stimulus measures. “In addition, a majority of manufacturing employees (in China) chose to stay put over the Lunar New Year holidays,” the statement said.
“Our survey showed a lot of firms in export-oriented provinces stayed open, and orders that usually only get delivered after the New Year had been delivered normally.”
Chinese factory activity usually goes dormant during the Lunar New Year break, which fell in the middle of February this year, as workers return to their hometowns.
This year, the government appealed to workers to avoid travelling to curb the risk of a spread of the coronavirus.
In January-February, imports increased 22.2pc from a year earlier, above the 15pc forecast, partly due to stockpiling of semiconductors and energy products, according to customs.
China posted a trade surplus of $103.25bn (€87bn) for the first two months.
Analysts had expected the trade surplus to narrow to $60.15bn from $78.17bn in December.
China’s economy expanded 2.3pc last year – its weakest growth in 44 years.