China's customs agency said exports were up 35 percent in June from a year ago, while imports rose almost 53 percent. The figures showed the largest monthly trade surplus so far this year, $20 billion, despite the debt problems of China's largest trading partner, the European Union.
That should keep international pressure on China to further allow the value of its currency to rise, after China last month relaxed the yuan's two-year peg to the dollar.
The report said exports rose 35.2 percent in June, higher than expected, while imports were up 52.7 percent. That's compared with the same period a year ago.
"Data for June shows China's trade account continuing to defy gravity, with exports strong despite mounting evidence of a faltering global recovery, and imports strong despite expectations of slowing domestic investment growth," said a research note from Tom Orlik, an analyst in Beijing for Stone & McCarthy Research Associates.
Export growth slowed from its May level of 48.5 percent, while import growth speeded up from its May level of 48.3 percent. The figures were posted on the customs agency's website.
Beijing is closely following the debt problems of its largest trading partner, the 27-nation European Union. The debt problems are expected to hurt consumer spending and overall demand, and analysts continue to worry that Europe's debt crisis is likely to hurt the recovery in trade.
Demand for China's exports plunged after the global crisis hit in 2008, forcing thousands of factories that made shoes, toys and other low-cost goods to close and throwing millions of migrant laborers out of work.
Exports have rebounded at least temporarily to pre-crisis levels, hitting $137.3 billion in June, up from $117.3 billion in the same month two years ago.
"This is a symbol that China's foreign trade has returned to where it was before the financial crisis," Zheng Yuesheng, chief of statistics for the customs agency, told China Central Television. "China's foreign trade is still moving toward basically balanced development."
Exports to Europe were up 36 percent in June from a year earlier while those to the United States rose 28.3 percent. China's politically sensitive trade surplus with the United States was $17.6 billion.
Exports to some developing markets rose much faster, reflecting the uneven recovery of global demand. Shipments of Chinese goods to Brazil jumped 103.7 percent and to Russia by 59.2 percent.
China's imports totaled $117.3 billion in June, growing more rapidly despite government efforts to cool a boom in the real estate industry, one of China's top customers for steel, copper and other building materials.
"The quantity of iron ore and copper imported fell for a third month in a row, though the fall in the quantity of iron ore imports was disguised by an increase in prices," Orlik's note said, adding that it could indicate slowing demand in the near future.
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