May 7 (UPI) — China’s exports rebounded in April, growing 3.5 percent, according to the latest data from Beijing’s General Administration of Customs on Thursday.
As China’s exports bounced back, imports fell by 14.2 percent, indicating domestic demand has not recovered following the end of widespread COVID-19 lockdowns in the country. Chinese exports could also lose steam as countries around the world refrain from reopening economies.
China’s trade performance has improved since March, when exports fell by 6.6 percent. In January and February, the country’s exports contracted by a combined 17.2 percent, according to the South China Morning Post.
China’s April trade data is exceeding most analysts’ expectations, but challenges lie ahead, they say.
“China’s external demand is suffering from the impact of lockdowns and social distancing in the rest of the world,” said Louis Kuijs, China economist at Oxford Economics, according to the Post. “Exports should weaken significantly in the near term.”
China’s exports are recovering as U.S. exports plummet amid the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. trade data released this weak show U.S. exports to China fell by 14.7 percent, even as China has stepped up purchases of U.S. soybeans.
April activity shows China is enjoying a trade surplus of $45.34 billion, the largest trade surplus since December, according to CNBC on Thursday.
Analysts are divided in opinion over whether Chinese shipments of medical goods for COVID-19 containment had played a significant role in the country’s trade surplus.
The United States and China recently traded barbs over the coronavirus and its origins.
On Thursday, Beijing foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying defended Chinese pandemic policy, describing Beijing’s approach as “open, transparent and responsible.”
“China has taken the most comprehensive, rigorous, and thorough prevention and control measures to curb the spread of the epidemic,” Hua said.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently charged China with suppressing information regarding the origins of the coronavirus.