China’s trade rebounds in May as anti-virus curbs ease

Jun 8, 2022, 9:05 PM | Updated: Jun 9, 2022, 11:47 am
FILE - In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a container ship from Japan is anchored at the...

FILE - In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a container ship from Japan is anchored at the container dock of Shanghai's Yangshan Port in east China on April 27, 2022. China’s trade growth rebounded in May after anti-virus restrictions that shut down Shanghai and other industrial centers began to ease, according to a customs agency statement on Thursday, June 9, 2022. (Chen Jianli/Xinhua via AP, File)

(Chen Jianli/Xinhua via AP, File)

BEIJING (AP) — China’s trade growth rebounded in May after anti-virus restrictions that shut down Shanghai and other industrial centers began to ease.

Exports surged 16.9% over a year earlier to $308.3 billion, up from April’s 3.7% growth, a customs agency statement said Thursday. Imports rose gained 4.1% to $229.5 billion, accelerating from the previous month’s 0.7%.

China’s trade has been dampened by weak export demand and curbs imposed to fight outbreaks in Shanghai, site of the world’s busiest port, and other cities. Consumer demand was crushed by rules that confined millions of families to their homes.

Forecasters have cut estimates for China’s economic growth to as low as 2% this year, well below the ruling Communist Party’s target of 5.5%. Some expect activity to shrink in the quarter ending in June before a gradual recovery begins.

Most factories, shops and other businesses in Shanghai, Beijing and other cities have been allowed to reopen but are expected to need weeks or months to return to normal activity.

“Exports showed considerable resilience in May despite the impact of the protracted lockdown in Shanghai,” said Rajiv Biswas of S&P Global Market Intelligence in a report.

China’s politically sensitive global trade surplus widened by 82.3% over a year earlier to $78.8 billion. That was among the highest monthly trade gaps but below December’s record $94.4 billion.

Exports to the United States rose 15% over a year ago to $51.9 billion despite lingering U.S. tariff hikes on Chinese imports in a dispute over Beijing’s technology ambitions. Imports of American goods rose 21.2% to $15.8 billion.

China’s trade surplus with the United State widened by 13.5% to $36.1 billion.

Import figures got a boost from higher global prices for oil and other commodities while the volume of foreign goods bought grew less strongly.

The export rebound is likely to be temporary due to “growing headwinds” as high inflation and rising interest rates weigh on consumer purchasing power, said Sheana Yue of Capital Economics in a report.

“Outbound shipments will soften,” Yue said. “Imports are set to remain weak.”

Exports to the 27-nation European Union rose 20.3% to $48 billion, while imports of European goods jumped 95.7% to $24.8 billion. China’s trade surplus with the EU widened by 83.2% to $23.2 billion.

Imports from Russia, mostly oil and gas, jumped 79.5% over a year ago to $10.3 billion.

China’s growing purchases of Russian energy are irritating Washington and its allies at a time when they are enforcing trade and financial sanctions to punish President Vladimir Putin’s government for its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Beijing declared ahead of the attack that it had a “no limits” friendship with Moscow. It criticizes the sanctions but has avoided helping Putin for fear of losing access to Western markets and the global banking system.

China bought 20% of last year’s Russian crude exports, according to the International Energy Agency.

China’s “zero-COVID” strategy that confined Shanghai’s 25 million people to their homes starting in late March helped to keep case numbers low but disrupted manufacturing and trade.

The Port of Shanghai says the number of cargo containers handled each day returned to 95% of normal by late May. However, a backlog of tens of thousands of containers is likely to cause delays that will be felt around the world.

Authorities responded to complaints about the soaring cost of “zero-COVID” by switching to a more targeted approach of isolating buildings or neighborhoods with cases instead of cities. But some areas covered by restrictions that have closed shops, factories and offices for weeks at a time have millions of inhabitants.

China’s economy grew by a weak 4.8% over a year earlier in the quarter ending in March. That was an improvement over the 4% rate in the final three months of 2021, but the current quarter’s economic indicators are dismal.

Auto sales in April fell by almost half from a year earlier. Retail spending was off by a worse-than-forecast 11%.

The ruling party is trying to shore up growth with tax refunds to entrepreneurs, easier credit and spending on building public works. The World Bank warned this week such “old playbook” policies might delay efforts to encourage growth based on consumption instead of debt-fueled investment.

High debts “store up further risks down the line,” the bank’s chief China economist, Ibrahim Chowdhury, said in a statement.

As Shanghai reopens, factories plan to have only half their employees on the job at one time to limit disruptions if there are more quarantines, according to foreign business groups. That will weigh on demand for imported components and raw materials.

“It will be months at least, and possibly years, before all the people who were working get back to work,” Carl B. Weinberg of High-Frequency Economics said in a report this week.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

This Week: Fed minutes, Levi Strauss earns, jobs report

A look at some of the key business events and economic indicators upcoming this week: CLOSE-UP ON THE FED The Federal Reserve serves up the minutes from its most recent interest rate policy meeting Wednesday. At the meeting last month, the central bank intensified its fight against high inflation, raising its key interest rate by […]
22 hours ago
A person wearing a protective mask watches an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 ind...
Associated Press

Asian shares mixed, oil steady ahead of July 4 holiday in US

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares were mixed in Asia on Monday while U.S. futures fell ahead of the July 4 holiday in the U.S. Benchmarks rose in Tokyo, Shanghai and Sydney but fell in Hong Kong and Seoul. Oil prices were steady after surging on Friday. Last week was the fourth losing week in the last […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Fireworks explode over Baltimore's Inner Harbor during the Ports America Chesapeake 4th of J...
Associated Press

A turbulent US this July 4, but many see cause to celebrate

Independence Day arrives at a time when the United States is roiled by hearings over the Jan. 6 insurrection, awash in turmoil over high court rulings on abortion and guns and struggling to maintain the common bonds that keep it together. Yet many also see cause to celebrate: The pandemic continues to be on the […]
22 hours ago
Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testifies about h...
Associated Press

Jan 6 panel: More people turn up with evidence against Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — More witnesses are coming forward with new details on the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot following former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s devastating testimony last week against former President Donald Trump, says a member of a House committee investigating the insurrection. The panel already has subpoenaed former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Today in History: July 4, Declaration of Independence

Today in History Today is Monday, July 4, the 185th day of 2022. There are 180 days left in the year. This is Independence Day. Today’s Highlight in History: On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted by delegates to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia. On this date: In 1802, the United […]
22 hours ago
This image released by Bleecker Street shows Freida Pinto, left, and Zawe Ashton in a scene from "M...
Associated Press

‘Minions’ set box office on fire with $108.5 million debut

Families went bananas for Minions this weekend at the movie theater. ” Minions: The Rise of Gru ” brought in an estimated $108.5 million in ticket sales from 4,391 screens in North America, Universal Pictures said Sunday. By the end of the Monday’s July Fourth holiday, it will likely have earned over $127.9 million. The […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
...
Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

ADHS mobile program brings COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to Arizonans

The Arizona Department of Health Services and partner agencies are providing even more widespread availability by making COVID-19 vaccines available in neighborhoods through trusted community partners.
China’s trade rebounds in May as anti-virus curbs ease