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Export growth eases again in August

By CHEN JIA/ZHONG NAN/REN XIAOJIN | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-09 06:48

China's export growth eased for the second consecutive month in August to 6.9 percent in yuan-denominated terms-down from 11.2 percent in July-as global demand softened, according to data released on Friday by the General Administration of Customs.

Imports showed stronger growth than exports, at a rate of 14.4 percent in August, down slightly from 14.7 percent a month earlier, which experts said suggests consolidated domestic demand.

The monthly trade surplus was 286.5 billion yuan ($44 billion), down by 14 percent year-on-year, according to the official data.

In the first eight months, total exports rose by 13 percent year-on-year, while the growth rate of imports was 22.5 percent.

"Given the sequential strength so far in 2017, we expect the export data to continue to look healthy in the coming months," said Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics. "The strong import data suggests that domestic demand may be more resilient than expected in the second half to less accommodative monetary policy."

Gai Xinzhe, an economist with Bank of China, suggested that a slower global trade recovery, in line with the softening economic growth of some major trading partners including South Korea, has depressed China's exports.

Analysts also warned that a stronger Chinese currency may add pressure on the world's second-largest economy by hurting export growth if the yuan's exchange rate keeps rising against the US dollar.

People's Bank of China, the central bank, raised the yuan's midpoint for the 10th straight session to 6.5032 per dollar on Friday, a 16-month high.

Ding Zhijie, an assistant to the president of the University of International Business and Economics, said the yuan's appreciation will have limited influence on the future of trade. "It more depends on the external demand for goods."

He said he expected both downside and upside fluctuations of the yuan's exchange rate against the US dollar in the near term, adding that the appreciation cycle may soon end.

Gai at Bank of China agreed that the appreciation of the yuan will have a limited impact on exports, since this time a stronger yuan is mainly due to depreciation of the dollar.

"Instead, we need to keep a close eye on economic recovery in Europe and the United States," said Gai.

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