According to data released by the General Administration of Customs on Thursday, China imported goods worth US$132.5bn in January, up 25.2 percent year-on-year; and exported US$184.7bn in commodity with a growth of close to 16 percent.
The January export figures could be a precursor to frictions with Washington as US President Donald Trump accused Beijing of currency manipulation to give Chinese exporters a trade advantage, while he also threatened to impose huge tariffs on Chinese imports.
China's exports in yuan-denominated terms rose 15.9 percent year on year to 1.26 trillion yuan (US$183 billion) last month, faster than the 0.6 percent gain in December. In the previous month the exports had dropped 6.1 percent.
But China watchers caution that trends in January and February can be distorted by the long Lunar New Year holidays, with business slowing down weeks ahead of time and many firms scaling back operations or closing.
Last year, Chinese imports decreased by 5.5 percent, while exports went down 7.7 percent.
That left the country with a initial trade surplus of $51.35 billion for the month, the General Administration of Customs said.
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China's improving picture for exports after subdued data the prior month follow a better-than-expected economic growth pace of 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter, the first acceleration in two years.
By regions, China's trade with European Union, its largest trading partner, rose 14.1 percent year on year, while that with the U.S. jumped 21.9 percent, with ASEAN countries up 18.8 percent, and with Japan rising 18.4 percent. The holiday fell on January 28 this year, 11 days earlier than last year.
January data also benefited from a more favorable comparison to a year earlier, when shipments slumped 10.9 percent in yuan terms.
"The rebound in commodity prices and overseas demand for industrial products boosted the country's exports".
"We believe this is driven by storage with excess crudes going into storage".
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