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China’s trade moderates in April

CHINA’S foreign trade rose slower than expected in April on weaker demand and commodity prices.

Exports in yuan-denominated terms rose 14.3 percent year on year to 1.24 trillion yuan (US$180 billion), slower than the 22.3-percent increase in March, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Imports expanded 18.6 percent to 979.1 billion yuan, compared with March’s 26.3-percent increase.

In US dollar terms, exports rose 8 percent, missing market expectations for 11.3 percent, while imports rose 11.9 percent, compared with expectations for 18 percent.

Analysts attributed the slower growth in trade to slowdown of global economic growth and a correction in commodity prices.

“China’s export growth in April was half the pace in March, indicating a softening momentum in the second quarter,” the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group said in a note today. “The slowdown in imports growth in April mirrors the softening commodity price growth in the month.”

The bank said China’s import outlook is likely to be weighed by commodity prices, China’s iron ore inventory pile-up, and credit tightening.

Despite the slower growth, the customs said China’s foreign trade structure was improving with smaller proportion of processing trade and larger trading volume from private enterprises.

China’s trading with major partners also remained strong amid rising protectionism sentiment.

During the first four months, trade with the European Union, China’s largest trading partner, gained 15.5 percent year on year to 1.24 trillion yuan.

Trade with the United States expanded 20.3 percent to 1.18 trillion yuan, making it China's second largest trade partner.

Customs’ data showed that China’s total exports and imports value reached 8.42 trillion yuan, up 20.3 percent year-on-year.

The weaker-than-expected trade data along with slower expansion in manufacturing and services sectors raised concerns that China’s pace of economic growth may have peaked.

Released on April 30, China's official manufacturing PMI fell below market expectations to 51.2 in April and the official non-manufacturing PMI was 52.6 in April, 1.6 points lower than March.


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