Exports from China surged in February, which further widened its worldwide trade surplus during a time when the White House administration has been putting special focus on the trade deficit it has with Beijing.
China’s exports were up 44.5% during February compared to the same month one year ago, said the General Administration of Customs on Thursday. Wall Street economists were expecting an increase of just 8.5%. Imports for China were up by 6.3% which was smaller than was expected on Wall Street.
That means China’s trade balance overall widened last month to $33.74 billion, which was up from January’s $20.34.
Economists taking closures of businesses into account for the Lunar New Year had estimated that imports would surpass exports by over $5.4 billion.
An economist in Asia advised that not too much should be read into the growth in exports during February as holiday disruptions, which took place last year in January, but this year in February, making that data during the first part of each year very volatile.
Rising protectionism in trade, especially by the U.S., is the largest threats to the export prospect of China, said the economist.
Concerns over a worldwide trade war have surfaced in part because of the tariffs President Donald Trump has placed on imported aluminum and steel over the broad opposition from trading partners of the U.S. as well as many lawmakers in the U.S.
The trade surplus in China with the U.S. narrowed during February to $20.96 billion from January’s $21.9 billion. China exported goods worth $31.7 billion to the United States, which represents 18.5% of its overall exports.
While China is producing 50% of the steel in the world, most never leaves the country therefore the impact of the proposed tariffs in the U.S. on steelmakers in China is not expected to be big.
However, the U.S. remains the largest market for exporters in China and officials in China are being cautious in how they respond to what Trump is doing.
In a briefing on Thursday, Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China said that seeing China as a rival attempting to displace the U.S. is fundamentally a strategic misperception.
In 2017, a recovery in the worldwide economy and demand was able to help China post an increase in its annual growth for just the first in many years.
The top state planner for China said this week it is expecting foreign trade to continue with its stable growth in 2018.