The growth rate of China's export slowed in August, but the trade surplus remains high despite the government's efforts to trim the ballooning figure.
The trade surplus was US$24.97 billion last month, the second highest in history after US$26.91 billion in June, the General Administration of Customs said on its website yesterday.
Exports totaled US$111.36 billion, up 22.7 percent from a year earlier, down from 34.2 percent year-on-year in July, according to the Customs figures. Imports reached US$86.38 billion, up 20.1 percent from a year earlier.
"Slower export growth in August is mainly due to a high base a year ago," said Qiu Gaoqing, an economist with Bank of Communications in Shanghai. Exports increased 32.8 percent in the same period last year.
Another reason for slower growth is that exporters had rushed to ship goods in earlier months before the government cut the export tax rebate to narrow the trade gap in July, said Qiu and other experts.
But experts say it is hard to predict whether the slowing trend will continue. "I believe we need to see the trade figures in the coming months to judge whether existing policies are really working to rein in exports," said Li Yushi, deputy director of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, a Ministry of Commerce think tank.
The latest Customs figures on exports do not mean the total amount of exported products is increasing because prices of unit export goods are rising, according to Mei Xinyu, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation. Mei cited figures showing the export price of products including cotton and motorcycles has increased this year.
Many analysts expect the trade surplus will continue to increase in the coming months as the second half always sees more trading activity than the first half. The total trade surplus this year is expected to reach US$250 billion.
China has been trying to reduce the trade surplus by repealing rebates of value-added taxes on hundreds of products and imposing additional taxes on exports of certain items such as steel. But exports will not slow dramatically as the worldwide demand for Chinese goods remains high, say experts.
Major export items include hi-tech, machinery and electronic products, clothing, textiles and automatic data processing equipment. Major import items include hi-tech, machinery and electronic products, according to Customs figures.