China exports rise in July, defying expectations

BEIJING: China’s exports rose unexpectedly in July despite weakening global demand but imports remained low as lingering Covid controls kept consumers jittery, official data showed Sunday.

In July, exports rose 18 percent on-year, up from 17.9 percent the month before, according to customs data.

This was well above the 14.6 percent growth expected by economists polled by Bloomberg News.

Imports grew 2.3 percent, compared to a dismal one percent in June.

But it was below the four percent growth predicted by analysts, who had expected easing Covid-19 restrictions to boost domestic consumption.

China is the only major economy still holding fast to a zero-Covid strategy with snap lockdowns and long quarantines, battering business activity and making consumers jittery.

The country’s overall trade surplus rose to $101.26 billion, from $97.9 billion in June.

China logged its slowest economic growth since the initial coronavirus outbreak last month, expanding just 0.4 percent in the second quarter with lockdowns and property market weakness pushing the government’s target further out of reach.

Analysts have said that it is unlikely the official target of around 5.5 percent economic growth this year can be attained, given that it will require a huge acceleration in the second half.