China’s imports, exports boom in March in signs of COVID-19 recovery

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China’s imports and exports boomed again in March, data showed Tuesday, reaffirming the recovery in the world’s number-two economy continues apace and demand picks up in key overseas markets as they emerge from last year’s crisis.

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The readings highlight the impact of vaccines and the easing of containment measures are having, with expectations for further improvement over the next few months.

Imports soared a forecast-busting 38.1 percent on-year as the country’s army of consumers increasingly return to some form of normality after last year’s virus crisis forced businesses to shut and people to stay at home.

The figure was a huge increase from the 22.2 percent rise seen in January and February and is the biggest hike since February 2017.

Exports rose 30.6 percent, well off the 38 percent increase tipped in a Bloomberg forecast but still among the highest readings since early 2018. Overseas shipments jumped more than 60 percent in January-February.

The outsized increases are down to the fact that they are compared with a low base level from last year, when the pandemic was at its height in China and spreading elsewhere.

China’s overall trade surplus was $13.8 billion, the customs data showed, while its trade surplus with the United States was $21.4 billion, up about 40 percent on-year.

The US trade surplus was a key point of contention during the trade war with former US President Donald Trump.

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