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China Exports Generate Record Trade Surplus

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China’s trade surplus widened to a record in November, as global demand for the country’s goods grew even more robust.

November exports were up 21% from a year earlier, the General Administration of Customs reported Monday, accelerating from October’s 11.4% and beating economists’ 12% forecast. Imports were up 4.5%, slowing slightly from October’s 4.7% and short of the 5.3% expected by economists. The resulting $75.42 billion trade surplus topped the record set in May, when a drop in imports was the major factor.

China’s exports have topped market expectations since the second quarter, when Beijing moved to restart the world’s second-largest economy after lockdowns and Covid-19 outbreaks at the start of the year. During the pandemic, protective gear and work-from-home tech products have served as pillars for China’s overseas trade, helping it gain global market share.

“Outbound shipments remained strong thanks to a surge in global demand for Chinese-made consumer goods such as electronic products. Exports of other goods were still much more subdued,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, an economist with Capital Economics.

China’s November shipments to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the U.S., its No. 1 and No. 3 trading partners, respectively, were up 10% and 46% from a year earlier, beating October’s pace. Exports to the European Union, its No. 2 trading partner, were up 8.6% after being down 7% in October, according to calculations made by The Wall Street Journal.

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