Chinese trade growth accelerated for a second month in June in a positive sign for global demand and the world's No. 2 economy.
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Exports rose 11.3 percent to $196.6 billion, up from May's 8.7 percent rate, customs data showed Thursday. Imports gained 17.2 percent to $153.8 billion, up from the previous month's 14.8 percent growth.
Unexpectedly strong export demand could help to support Chinese economic growth that is forecast to weaken this year as Beijing tightens bank lending controls to reduce the risks of rising debt.
"Today's upbeat figures point to still strong foreign demand for Chinese goods, as well as fairly resilient domestic demand," said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report.
Chinese leaders are trying to encourage domestic consumption and reduce reliance on trade and investment. But their plans call for avoiding politically dangerous job losses in export-dependent industries that employ millions of people.
The International Monetary Fund expects this year's economic growth to decline to 6.6 percent from last year's 6.7 percent and to below 6.2 percent in 2018.
"Exports should continue to do well given the relatively positive outlook for China's main trading partners," said Evans-Pritchard. "But we are skeptical that the current pace of imports can be sustained for much longer given the increasing headwinds to China's economy from policy tightening."
China's global trade surplus in June rose 37.3 percent compared with a year earlier to $42.7 billion.
The surplus with the 28-nation European Union, China's biggest trading partner, expanded by 60.5 percent to $11.4 billion. The trade gap with the United States widened by 88.1 percent to $25.4 billion.
General Administration of Customs of China (in Chinese): www.customs.gov.cn