BEIJING – China’s trade with the United States and the rest of the world jumped double-digit in April as consumer demand picked up, but growth appeared to be slowing.
Global exports rose 32.3% from a year ago to $ 263.9 billion, as in March, but down from the explosive rise of 60.6% in the first two months of 2021 , according to customs data Friday. Imports rose 43.1% to $ 221.1 billion, an acceleration from the 38.1% expansion in March.
China’s trade gains look particularly spectacular given the comparison to a year ago, when global economies shut down to fight the coronavirus. Forecasters say growth has stabilized once the distortion and seasonal fluctuations are taken into account.
Despite the April jump in numbers, exports are stabilizing “and the rebound in imports has stagnated,” Capital Economics’ Julian Evans-Pritchard said in a report. “Demand is probably close to a cyclical peak.”
The trade outlook is overshadowed by a tariff war with Washington and surveys that show growth in export orders in April weakened. President Joe Biden has yet to say what he could do to restart talks to end the trade war.
On the home front, economic output in the three months ending in March rose only 0.6% from the previous quarter, showing that China’s explosive rebound has abruptly slowed down. This suggests that the growth in Chinese demand for iron ore, consumer goods and other imports will slow.
Chinese manufacturers of smartphones, cars, consumer electronics and other goods are also hampered by the global processor chip shortage as industries revive after the pandemic.
April’s exports to the United States rose 30.8% from a year ago to $ 42 billion despite tariff hikes that remained in place after Beijing and Washington agreed to a truce in their trade war last year. Imports of U.S. products rose 23.5 percent to $ 13.9 billion despite Chinese tariff hikes.
China’s global trade surplus narrowed 5% to $ 42.8 billion, a sign that Chinese demand is recovering faster than in the rest of the world. Its politically volatile surplus with the United States widened 33.4% to $ 28.1 billion.
Exports to the 27 countries of the European Union increased 23.9% from a year ago to $ 39.9 billion, while imports rose 43.3% to $ 26.8 billion. China’s trade surplus with Europe narrowed 3% to $ 13.1 billion.
Exporters have taken advantage of the rapid reopening of China’s economy and demand for masks and other medical supplies, as some governments reimpose antivirus restrictions that restrict business and commerce.
The latest Chinese import figures are also inflated by rising global prices for iron ore and other raw materials. This may make imports appear larger as the quantity of goods holds or decreases.
In the four months of April, Chinese exports jumped 44% from a year earlier to reach $ 973.7 billion. Imports increased by $ 31.9 billion to reach $ 815.8 billion.