BEIJING -- China's monthly trade surplus leaped to a record $47.3 billion in July, nearly tripling year-on-year, official data showed Friday, as the world's second-largest economy saw export growth accelerate while imports surprisingly shrank.
Exports increased 14.5% year-on-year to $212.9 billion, the General Administration of Customs announced, while imports decreased 1.6% to $165.6 billion.
The surplus, which compared with one of $17.8 billion during the same month last year, beat China's previous record of $40.1 billion in November 2008.
Export growth accelerated from June's gain of 7.2% and beat expectations of 8%. But imports, which had gained 5.5% in June, failed to match the forecast of a 3% increase.
Customs data showed that exports to the United States, the world's biggest economy, grew 12.3% on-year in July, while those to Germany jumped 17.1%, in line with a 17% increase to the broader European Union.
'Bullish and Bearish’
The figures come as China's economic activity has picked up steam since authorities introduced measures to shore up growth after it slowed at the beginning of the year.
China's gross domestic product (GDP) accelerated to a higher-than-expected 7.5% in the second quarter, up from 7.4% in the previous three months, which was the worst since a similar 7.4% expansion in July-September 2012.
The government in March set its annual GDP growth target for 2014 at about 7.5%, the same as last year.
China's leaders are trying to shift the country's economic model to one where its increasingly affluent consumers propel economic growth rather than large, state-supported investments.
But since April, in a bid to boost growth, authorities have introduced measures including tax breaks for small enterprises, targeted infrastructure outlays and incentives to encourage lending in rural areas and to small companies.
The trade data came after surveys of China's manufacturing sector showed that activity increased sharply in July, with the official purchasing managers' index (PMI) reaching its highest level in more than two years. A closely watched private PMI survey came in at an 18-month high.
-Kelly Olsen, AFP
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014