China’s exports in November make biggest leap in nearly 3 years

Trade booms this year, partly due to strong Chinese shipments of medical equipment, as data signal a strong recovery from the global coronavirus pandemic

China’s exports in November make biggest leap in nearly 3 years
China’s exporters saw strong growth in exports of textiles and fabrics, electronic integrated circuits and "working from home-related" goods, such as automatic data processing machines. File photo by Reuters.

(ATF) China’s exports in November jumped more than 20% year-on-year - the biggest leap in almost three years, in a sign of rising global demand for its goods amid a worsening global coronavirus pandemic.

Exports added 21.1% in US dollar terms last month compared with November 2019, official data showed on Monday. It was the fastest growth recorded since February 2018, the largest increase of any month this year and well above analysts’ forecasts.

The CSI 300 index of Shanghai- and Shenzhen-listed stocks dipped 0.7% on Monday despite the positive export data.

The yuan weakened by 0.2% to 6.5417 per dollar. The Chinese currency has gained 6.4% so far this year on the back of the country's post-Covid economic recovery.

China’s exports have boomed this year at a time when global trade has suffered due to the impact of the pandemic, partly due to strong Chinese shipments of personal protective equipment, drugs and medical supplies.

"Exports again surprised to the upside in November, supported by a further recovery in non-Covid-related shipments and a rebound in Covid-related exports amid new waves of infection in the world," said Barclays China economist Jian Chang. "We expect this strength to sustain into the first half of 2021."

Lack of sustainability

However, analysts noted that PPE and similar shipments were not sustainable, especially when vaccines are rolled out. “Many Covid-related purchases won’t happen again and we eventually expect a global rotation from goods to services consumption," said Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics.

Exports of textiles and fabrics goods grew 21% year-on-year, compared with 14% growth in October.

Goldman Sachs analysts noted a rise in "working from home-related" goods, such as a 34.3% year-on-year increase in automatic data processing machine exports.

Year-on-year growth of exports in electronic integrated circuits nearly doubled to 26.4% from 13.9% in October.

Exports of plastic products and those related to housing also grew significantly.

Imports rose 4.5% year-on-year in November, slower than October's 4.7% growth. Imports were "weighed on by a slump in non-oil ordinary imports", said Ting Lu, China economist at Nomura. 

China’s trade surplus in November was $75.4 billion, a new record and far higher than the $58.4 billion recorded in October.

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