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Monday, October 13, 2008

Chinese Exports Maintain Strong Momentum In August

China’s trade surplus hit a record $29.3bn in September as exporters succeeded in defying forecasts of falling international demand – for the moment, at least.

Exports rose 21.5 percent from a year earlier to $136.4 billion after gaining 21.1 percent in August, according to data from the Chinese customs bureau. China has cut interest rates twice in the last month in an attempt to stimulate the economy as the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression undermines global growth. The surplus adds to the already existing $1.8 trillion of foreign-currency reserves.

The expanding trade surplus – up from the previous record of $28.7bn in August – will bolster China’s slowing gross domestic product growth rate but could also refocus international attention on Beijing’s effort to support exporters in recent months by slowing the renminbi’s appreciation against the US dollar.

Chinese imports grew 21.3 per cent year-on-year in September, their weakest performance for more than a year.

It is clear that the focus of government policy has shifted away from combating inflation, which hit a 12-year high of 8.7 per cent in February, and toward supporting growth. China remains relatively insulated from the current international financial turmoil. Major state banks have been extensively recapitalised in recent years and have only limited international exposure, while the government has been enjoying rapid growth in tax revenues and over $1.8bn in foreign exchange reserves.

However, local investors are already suffering from dramatic falls in stock prices and the slump in urban property markets, increasing vulnerability to any fall in export demand.

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