BEIJING (AFP) – China’s exports and imports both rose more than expected in September, Customs data showed Monday in a positive signal for the world’s second-largest economy, but analysts warned that fundamentals remained weak.
The country’s trade surplus more than doubled year-on-year to $31.0 billion as exports rose 15.3 per cent to $213.7 billion, the General Administration of Customs announced, while imports climbed 7.0 per cent to $182.7 billion.
The rise in exports accelerated from August’s 9.4 per cent and was ahead of the median forecast of 12.5 per cent in a poll of 15 economists by Dow Jones Newswires.
The survey had predicted a fall of 2.4 per cent in imports, matching a surprise decline in August.
The positive figures are the latest contradictory indicator for China’s economy, a key driver of global growth.
Customs spokesman Zheng Yuesheng attributed the improvement to major economies recovering and external demand strengthening.
“The good momentum is expected to continue in the fourth quarter,” he added.
But analysts urged caution.
Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist with Capital Economics, said that while import growth rebounded, “this should not be taken as a sign that domestic demand growth is turning a corner”.
“The strength seems to have been driven by a surge in imports for processing and re-export,” he added. “As such, it mostly reflects a brighter export outlook rather than a pick-up in domestic demand.”
The improvement was expected to prove “short-lived”, he said, citing oversupply in the struggling property sector and “subdued commodity demand”.
The expansion in exports may be linked to the launch of Apple’s iPhone 6, Nomura analysts said in a research note, adding “external demand faces a high level of uncertainty due to weakening European growth and recent geopolitical risks”.
September’s import growth was “much higher than expected”, they said, but cautioned that domestic demand “remained weak”.