China exports up 28% in September; surplus with U.S. at $42 billion

China’s import and export growth slowed in September amid shipping bottlenecks and other disruptions combined with coronavirus outbreaks, according to customs data reported Wednesday.

The report showed exports rose 28.1 percent to $305.7 billion. That was slightly slower than the 33 percent increase logged in August, but faster than economists had forecast. Imports rose 17.6 percent to $240 billion, less than the previous month’s 26 percent but a bit more than expected.

Disruptions in industrial supply chains have persisted after last year’s global economic downturn. Rising infections in the United States and some other markets also dampened consumer sentiment.

This year’s trade figures have been distorted by comparison with 2020, when global demand plunged in the first half after governments shut factories and shops to fight the pandemic. Chinese exporters reopened after the ruling Communist Party declared the virus under control in March 2020, while its foreign competitors still were hampered by anti-virus curbs.

Economists have forecast that surging global demand for Chinese goods will level off as anti-disease controls ease and entertainment, travel and other service industries reopen.

Overall growth in two-way trade rose 15 percent in July-September, slowing from 25 percent year-on-year growth in the previous quarter.

The politically sensitive trade surplus with the U.S. rose to $42 billion in September from nearly $38 billion in August, the report said.

More than three years after former U.S. President Donald Trump launched a tariff war against Beijing, his successor Joe Biden’s administration has not said if it will agree to Chinese demands to roll back some of those punitive duties.

Biden’s top trade official, Katherine Tai, said last week that she planned frank talks with Beijing about complaints over policies that foreign businesses say give their Chinese competitors an unfair advantage.

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