China's Exports, Imports Soar to Record Highs in November

Exports increased 34.9% in November from a year earlier to $153.3 billion, while imports rose 37.7% to $130.4 billion.

China said on Dec. 10 that exports and imports hit record highs in November, which analysts said would ramp up pressure on Beijing for further interest rate hikes and a stronger currency.

The country's trade surplus shrank in November to $22.9 billion, customs authorities said, but the still-hefty number will add to the already large volume of money washing around the economy and fuel inflation pressures.

The surplus stood at $27.15 billion in October.

Exports increased 34.9% in November from a year earlier to $153.3 billion, while imports rose 37.7% to $130.4 billion.

The increases trounced analyst forecasts for 22.4% growth, while customs authorities said the values were record highs for a single month.

Analysts said the data showed the Chinese economy remained in good shape despite sluggish growth in the United States and the worsening European debt crisis -- and supported calls for higher rates and a stronger yuan.

"It is increasingly difficult to argue that China's export sector can not tolerate some currency appreciation, a move which would also help Beijing get price pressures under control," said Brian Jackson of Royal Bank of Canada. "The strength of domestic demand also suggests that rate hikes are needed to keep China's economy on an even keel."

Inflation data is expected to show consumer prices rose 4.7% in November, Dow Jones Newswires said, which would be the fastest pace in more than two years and well above the official full-year target of 3%.

The figures also precede two days of key trade talks between China and the United States in Washington next week, at which Beijing is likely to face renewed calls to allow its currency to rise faster against the dollar.

Critics charge the yuan is undervalued by as much as 40%, making Chinese exports artificially cheap. China pledged in June to loosen its grip on the currency. Since that time, the yuan has appreciated less than three percent against the greenback. But Washington's demands for a stronger yuan have been undermined by the Federal Reserve's decision last month to pump $600 billion into the economy. The move has been blamed for triggering a flood of capital into developing economies including China, pushing up the value of local currencies and fuelling inflation.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

TAGS: Trade
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