China trade surplus hits record $75B as Nov exports soar

China’s politically sensitive trade surplus with the U.S. soared to a record $75.4 billion November as exports surged 21.1% over a year earlier, propelled by strong demand from American consumers.

Exports to the United States rose 46% despite lingering tariff hikes in a trade war with Washington, customs data showed Monday.

Total exports rose to $268 billion, up from October’s 11.4% growth. Imports gained 5% to $192.6 billion, up from the previous month’s 4.7%, reflecting the growing strength of China’s economic rebound from the coronavirus pandemic.

Chinese exporters are benefiting from the economy’s relatively early reopening after the Communist Party declared the disease under control in March while foreign competitors still are hampered by anti-virus controls.

“Exports were much stronger than expected in November,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report. He noted that consumers have stepped up purchases of goods, cutting back on services that may not be safe or available during the pandemic.

Chinese exporters have temporarily taken global market share from competitors. Forecasters say that surge is unlikely to last into 2021 once coronavirus vaccines are rolled out and consumption in Western markets gradually returns to normal.

Total exports for 2020 returned to positive territory in October after the first quarter’s 13.3% contraction dragged down the overall figure.

Chinese import growth by volume has been bigger than the financial figures indicate due to slumping global prices for oil and other goods amid plunging demand.

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