BEIJING: China trade figures were much stronger than expected in January as demand picked up at home and abroad. It was an encouraging start to the year for the world’s largest trading nation even as Asia braces for a rise in US protectionism under President Donald Trump.
Exports rose 7.9 percent from January last year measured in dollars. Imports increased 16.7 percent, which was the fastest pace in four years. Zhao Zhongxiu, Vice-president of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, commented: “Trade has benefited from a number of government measures intended to stabilise exports and promote economic growth. They include effective measures, such as those to streamline administration and facilitate foreign trade, as well as improve tax reimbursements. All have had a pretty good impact on foreign trade.” The early arrival of the Chinese new year this year also helped. Imports have been fueled by a continuing construction boom which is boosting demand for commodities. Iron ore imports were the second highest on record, and crude oil imports were the third highest ever. Coal purchases also soared, for use in both power generation and steelmaking.