China exports up 9.4 percent but imports shrink again, indicating domestic demand still weak

Economic Indicators Associated Press

China's exports grew more than forecast in August while imports shrank unexpectedly for the second month in a row, a reminder of the fragile recovery in the world's No. 2 economy, customs data showed Monday.

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Exports rose 9.4 percent last month, down from a 14.5 percent expansion in July but higher than many economists had been forecasting.

Imports, however, contracted 2.4 percent, after shrinking 1.6 percent the month before. Economists had been expecting imports to return to growth last month.

The figures indicate that global demand for China's manufactured goods is holding up but domestic demand continues to stumble, exacerbated by a slump in the property market.

China's communist leaders are relying on exports to help support employment while trying to nurture growth based on domestic consumption.

Economic growth in the first three months of the year sagged to 7.4 percent, the lowest in nearly two years, before improving only slightly to 7.5 percent in the second quarter.

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August exports totaled $208 billion while imports were $158.6 billion, pushing China's politically sensitive global trade surplus up nearly 78 percent to $49.8 billion.

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General Administration of Customs of China (in Chinese): www.customs.gov.cn