China’s trade with the United States and the rest of the world rose by double digits in April as consumer demand rebounded. However, growth is slowing.
Global exports increased 32.3% over a year ago to $263.9 billion. However, it is down from the explosive 60.6% surge in the first two months of 2021. Imports boosted 43.1% to $221.1 billion, accelerating from March’s 38.1% gain.
The Asian giant’s trade gains look especially dramatic due to comparison with 2020 when global economies shut down to fight the COVID-19. Remarkably, forecasters say growth is flattening out once that distortion and seasonal fluctuations are taken into account.
Imports grew by 43.1% in April from a year earlier to $221.07 billion, up from the 38.1% growth in March and just below the Bloomberg survey, which predicted 44.4% growth.
Notably, the trade outlook is darkened by a tariff war with the U.S. and surveys showing that April’s growth in export orders weakened. Biden has yet to say what he might do about renewing talks to end the trade war.
On the domestic front, economic output in the three months ending in March rose only 0.6% from the previous quarter, showing China’s explosive rebound was abruptly slowing. That implies growth in Chinese demand for iron ore, consumer goods, and other imports will cool.
Exports to the 27-nation European Union surged 23.9%
April exports to the United States increased 30.8% over a year ago to $42 billion despite tariff hikes that stayed in place after China and U.S. agreed to a truce in their trade war in 2020. Imports of American goods surged 23.5% to $13.9 billion despite Chinese tariff hikes.
China’s global trade surplus declined by 5% to $42.8 billion, a sign Chinese demand is rebounding faster than in the rest of the world. Its politically volatile surplus with the United States increased by 33.4% to $28.1 billion.
Exports to the 27-nation European Union surged 23.9% over a year ago to $39.9 billion. Imports gained $43.3% to $26.8 billion. China’s trade surplus with Europe fell by 3% to $13.1 billion.
Exporters served from the early reopening of China’s economy and demand for masks and other medical supplies. Meanwhile, some governments are re-imposing anti-virus curbs that hamper business and trade.
From the beginning of the 2021 year, Chinese exports surged 44% over a year earlier to $973.7 billion. Meanwhile, imports rose by $31.9 billion to $815.8 billion.