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Surprise jump in March imports

By Li Jiabao in Beijing and Yu Ran in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2013-04-11 11:10

Performance boosts confidence of achieving 2013 trade growth goal

China's imports registered an unexpected increase in March, which trade officials attributed to stronger domestic demand.

Exports grew 10 percent year-on-year in March to $182.19 billion despite still weak global demand, a performance that boosted officials' confidence they can achieve the 2013 trade growth target of 8 percent.

Imports in March rose 14.1 percent from a year earlier to $183.07 billion, the highest in more than 10 years, the General Administration of Customs said on Wednesday.

China's overall trade gained 12.1 percent year-on-year with an unexpected trade deficit of $880 million, the first in more than a year.

"The better-than-forecast imports signal the unleashing of domestic demand, and China's economic growth will significantly pick up from the second quarter," said Chen Hufei, a researcher at Bank of Communications.

"Imports will keep expanding this year as the government rebalances foreign trade, and the trade surplus is likely to narrow," Chen said.

China's growth rate hit a 13-year low of 7.8 percent in 2012, but signs of recovery have been seen since the fourth quarter.

"Favorable policies of stabilizing foreign trade, introduced by the central government since the second half of last year, keep delivering positive effects, which is the major driver for the steady trade growth in the first quarter," customs spokesman Zheng Yuesheng said at a news briefing on Wednesday.

"The recovery of China's economic growth has been strengthened amid positive numbers for factory production in recent months. Exporters' confidence is also improving as enhanced productivity partly offsets the rise in costs," he added.

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