China's trade surplus with US widens by nearly 44% in April

The US$22.19 billion surplus reversed four straight months of decline, with exports rebounding more robustly than expected.

China's trade surplus with the United States in April widened by 43.8 percent from March to US$22.19 billion, reversing four consecutive months of decline, according to data from China Customs.

China’s exports, denominated in US dollars, rebounded more strongly than expected in April by 12.9 percent from a year earlier, indicating that global demand remains relatively resilient and helped to buffer the negative influence of trade friction between China and the US.

Exports to the US rose to US$36.12 billion in April from US$30.69 billion a month earlier, with the trade surplus with the US widening to US$22.19 billion from US$15.43 billion.

From January to April, China's trade surplus with the US rose to US$80.4 billion from US$50 billion in the same period last year.

"The widening China-US trade surplus reflects the difficulty of significantly closing the trade gap between the two countries in the near term, but it is unlikely to obstruct the constructive progress made recently," said Betty Wang, senior China economist at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group.

China's global exports of steel and aluminium, a major point of contention with Washington and other countries, both rose in April.

Exports of electrical products and automatic data processing gained 15 percent and 22.4 percent year on year in April respectively, up from 2.4 percent and 15.2 percent in March. Exports of electronic integrated circuits also continued to grow by double-digits of 25.7 percent annually last month.

"We think it may have been due to exporters bringing forward their shipments to avoid near-term disruptions to the supply chain amid the trade tensions," Wang said.

China's total imports also rose beyond expectations by 21.5 percent in April year on year from the expected 16 percent growth.

The growth in imports continued strongly and was supported by major commodities and high-tech products, according to a report of ANZ Group.

Imports of major commodities, including iron ore and crude oil, rebounded in April as domestic business activities gradually resumed after the Lunar New Year festival.

Imports of high-tech products increased by double digits of 27.5 percent year on year in April, an indicator of China’s economic transition from a low-end to a high-end value chain, Wang said.

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