BEIJING - China's exports grew at a much faster pace than expected in June as solid global demand led by easing lockdown measures and vaccination drives worldwide eclipsed virus outbreaks and port delays.
Imports growth also beat expectations, though the pace eased from May, with the values boosted by high raw material prices, customs data showed Tuesday.
Because of Beijing's efforts in containing the pandemic earlier than its trading partners, the world's biggest exporter has managed a solid economic revival from the coronavirus-induced slump in the first few months of 2020.
Exports in dollar terms rose 32.2% in June from a year earlier, compared with 27.9% growth in May. The analysts polled by Reuters had forecasted a 23.1% increase.
"Exports surprised on the upside in June, shrugging off the impact of the temporary Shenzhen port closure and other supply chain bottlenecks," said Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics.
China's trade performance has seen some pressure in recent months, mainly because of a global semiconductor shortage, logistics bottlenecks, higher raw material and freight costs.
All the same, the global easing of COVID-19 lockdown measures and vaccination drives appeared to underpin a strong increase in worldwide demand for Chinese goods.
The strong shipment numbers last month underlined some solid factory surveys overseas. A measure of U.S. factory activity climbed to a record high in June, while Euro zone business growth accelerated at its fastest pace in 15 years.
The data also showed imports increased 36.7% year-on-year last month, beating a 30.0% forecast but slowing from a 51.1% gain in May, which was the highest growth rate in a decade.
China's customs administration spokesperson Li Kuiwen said the country's trade may slow in the second half of 2021, mainly reflecting the statistical impact of the high growth rate last year.
Li, speaking at a news conference in Beijing earlier in the day, also said that imported inflation risks were manageable, but China's trade still faces uncertainties because of the global pandemic.
"But overall we think China's foreign trade in the second half still has hopes of achieving relatively fast growth," he said.
China posted a trade surplus of $51.53 billion for last month, compared with the poll's forecast for a $44.2 billion surplus and the $45.54 billion surplus in May.
China's trade surplus with the United States swelled to $32.58 billion in June, Reuters calculations based on customs data showed, up from the May figure of $31.78 billion.
Top officials from China and the United States started exchanges in June to address mutual concerns, while the Biden administration is conducting a review of trade policy between the world's two biggest economies, ahead of the end of their Phase 1 deal at the end of 2021.
Beijing has started to purchase corn from the United States in June, while it still falls well behind its pledge in Phase 1 deal to buy more agriculture products from the United States.