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China's trade surplus balloons
AFP - 1 hour 1 minute ago
BEIJING (AFP) - – China's trade surplus ballooned to 28.7 billion dollars in July as exports hit a record high, the government said Tuesday -- data likely to intensify pressure on Beijing for a stronger yuan.
The nation posted its biggest trade surplus since January 2009 as the value of China's overseas shipments reached a monthly record 145.52 billion dollars in July despite slower export growth, customs authorities said.
The data suggested China had so far seen little impact from the European debt crisis and weak recovery in the United States, as consumers continued to snap up Chinese-made televisions, T-shirts and leather shoes.
July's trade surplus compared with a surplus of 20.02 billion dollars in June and surpassed analyst expectations for 19.6 billion dollars.
It also marked a sharp turnaround from March, when the country recorded a trade deficit.
Exports grew 38.1 percent from the same period a year ago but slower than in June, when they were up 43.9 percent as steelmakers and raw material producers accelerated shipments before Beijing scrapped tax rebates on certain products.
China warned last month that exports would slow in the second half of this year due to uncertainties overseas.
Policymakers were likely to resist any outside pressure to let the Chinese currency appreciate too quickly against the dollar, using the slowdown in export growth as their justification, experts said.
Imports gained 22.7 percent year-on-year to 116.79 billion dollars in July, marking a sharp slowdown in the pace of growth from June, when imports rose 34.1 percent.
It was the fourth straight month that year-on-year growth in imports has slowed.
"In the United States we still have unemployment close to 10 percent and data out later this week will likely show another huge trade deficit of more than 40 billion dollars," said Brian Jackson, a senior analyst at Royal Bank of Canada in Hong Kong.
"This contrast in the trade position of the two most important economies in the world will likely increase the pressure from Washington for Beijing to allow further currency appreciation."
Beijing pledged in mid-June to let the yuan trade more freely against the dollar, though it ruled out sharp fluctuations in the value of the currency.
Since then, the yuan has gained less than one percent against the greenback, angering US lawmakers and other critics who claim the currency is undervalued by as much as 40 percent, giving Chinese exporters an unfair advantage.
The International Monetary Fund said last month that the yuan was "substantially" undervalued despite Beijing's pledge to loosen its grip.
The slowdown in export growth could deter policymakers from letting the yuan appreciate too fast, analysts said.
"The seasonal rise in the trade surplus during the remainder of the year, and expected slowing in year-ago export growth is unhelpful for foreign exchange policy," said Ben Simpfendorfer, economist at Royal Bank of Scotland in Hong Kong.
"The two developments will only add to Washington's insistence on a stronger yuan and Beijing's resistance."
The National Bureau of Statistics announced separately Tuesday that property prices continued to slow in July, as efforts to curb speculative investment in the real estate sector started to bite.
The trade and property data was released ahead of key figures on July inflation, fixed asset investment and industrial production due Wednesday.
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