world growth

world growth

Monday, October 13, 2008

China posts another record trade surplus despite global slowdown

by Robert J. Saiget

BEIJING (AFP) - China said Monday its trade surplus hit a monthly all-time high of 29.3 billion dollars in September despite slowing global demand brought on by the financial crisis.

Exports in September reached 136.4 billion dollars, up 21.5 percent over the same month last year, while imports during the period were 107.1 billion dollars, up by 21.3 percent, the General Administration of Customs said.

The previous monthly surplus record was 28.7 billion dollars in August.

China's trade surplus for the first nine months of the year reached 180.9 billion dollars, down 2.6 percent year-on-year, the administration said on its website.

Despite the unexpectedly high trade surplus for September, China's exporters would not be able to avoid the global economic downtown that has been exacerbated by the crisis embroiling financial markets, analysts said.

"September's new record high surplus was mainly a reason of slowing import growth, due to the pullback of international raw materials prices," Ma Qing, Beijing-based economist with CEB Monitor Group, told AFP.

"We are holding a cautious attitude to the outlook of China's import and exports. We expect both to fall further in the future because Sino-US trade will definitely go down with the slowing US economy, while Europe is expected to experience economic meltdown."

Ma said he did not expect China's peaking export performance to greatly bolster China's GDP growth in the first three quarters of 2008, which is scheduled to be announced next week.

Ma said he expected GDP growth in the second half of 2008 to weigh in at 8.8 percent, down from 11.9 percent growth last year and 10.1 percent in the second quarter of 2008.

Stephen Green, chief China economist at Standard Charter, called China's export growth in September "extraordinary," but added that it would not be long before the global economic turn down caught up with the export juggernaut.

"There will be impacts. It's just a matter of time before Chinese exporters get hit over the head again," Green told AFP.

"There are lags with Europe in recession now, the US in recession, the effects are filtering out to the rest of the world."

According to the customs administration, China's exports for the first three quarters of the year hit 1.074 trillion dollars, up 22.3 percent over the same period in 2007.

Imports during the period increased by 29 percent to 893.1 billion dollars.

Meanwhile, China's crude oil imports in the first nine months of the year rose 8.8 percent year-on-year to 140 million metric tonnes, or an average of about 3.75 million barrels a day, the customs administration said.

The data indicated China's crude oil imports for September set a monthly record, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

Previous figures from the customs bureau showed China imported 119.98 million tons of crude in the first eight months of this year.

This means China's crude oil imports in September totaled around 20 million tons, equivalent to 4.89 million barrels per day, Dow Jones said.

In the first nine months of the year, automobile imports rose 40.3 percent year-on-year to 310,000 units, the customs bureau added.

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