China's economy is booming as U.S.'s falters

China's economy is booming as U.S.'s falters

China's economy is booming as U.S.'s falters

BEIJING — China's exports jumped 28% in September. That was slightly faster than the 26% increase logged in August, and above economists' forecasts. Imports rose 17.6% to $240 billion, less than the previous month’s 33% increase.

This year’s trade figures have been distorted by comparison with 2020, when global demand plunged in the first half after governments shut factories and shops to fight the pandemic. Chinese exporters reopened after the ruling Communist Party declared the virus under control in March 2020, while their foreign competitors, including the U.S., fell behind as a result of COVID restrictions placed on businesses by the government.

“China’s foreign trade performance is leading the field among the world’s major economies, and China has seen an increase in its international market share," said Li Kuiwen, a spokesman for the customs agency.

“Taking into account the impact of the high base of foreign trade in 2020, the growth rate of imports and exports may fall in the fourth quarter of this year, but the overall upward trend of China’s foreign trade will not change, and rapid growth throughout the year is still expected," Li said.

Still, economists have forecast that surging global demand for Chinese goods will level off as anti-disease controls ease and entertainment, travel and other service industries reopen.

“The bigger problem for exports is that foreign demand has been buoyed by large stimulus in developed economies and shifts in consumption patterns due to the pandemic, both of which are likely to unwind over the coming quarters," Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said in a commentary.

He said imports are also likely to weaken as property construction slows and commodity prices retreat after surging in the initial rush of manufacturing as economies loosened pandemic-related restrictions.

China's global trade surplus rose to $68 billion in September from $52 billion in August. That was the highest level since 2015.

The politically sensitive trade surplus with the U.S. rose to $42 billion in September from nearly $38 billion in August, the report said.

Exports to the U.S. jumped 30% to $57.4 billion, while imports from the U.S. rose nearly 17% to $15.4 billion. American retailers are refilling bare store shelves, helping to keep demand strong, economists said.

Southeast Asia was China's biggest export market in September, reflecting expanding trade ties as countries lower tariffs and dismantle some barriers as part of regional trade agreements.

The data released Wednesday showed strong growth in exports of vehicles, mobile phones, consumer electronics and auto parts in January-September.

Imports of metals and semiconductors weakened, partly due to shortages of computer chips that are used in a wide range of products manufactured in China.

The ruling Communist Party has been moving to curb rising levels of debt and cool a construction boom that has driven a large share of economic activity in recent years. That is slowing demand for construction materials.