China's Trade Surplus Down 9.9%

Sharp increase in imports partially due to rising cost of key commodities

China's trade surplus stood at $20.2 billion in May, down 9.9% from a year earlier, as imports soared, according to data published June 11.

Imports in May increased 40% to $100.3 billion while exports rose 28.1% from the same month a year ago to $120.5 billion. The drastic spike in imports was partly based on imports needed to rebuild parts of southwest China devastated by the May 12 earthquake, analysts said. The steep increase in imports also reflected the rising cost of key commodities purchased by China, according to Tang Xiaosheng, a Shanghai-based analyst with Guosen Securities.

In the first five months of 2008, China's trade surplus hit $78 billion, a decline of 8.6% from the same period a year ago, with exports increasing 22.9% to $545.1 billion and imports rising 30.4% to $467 billion.

The EU was China's largest trading partner in the first five months of 2008, followed by the U.S.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

TAGS: Trade
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