China’s trade surplus hit a record in 2021 as exports surged

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BEIJING — China’s trade surplus hit a record high in 2021, boosted by strong exports that have beaten market expectations since their recovery from the pandemic.

For the full year, China’s exports rose 29.9% to a new high of $3.36 trillion, surpassing 2020’s record $2.6 trillion, according to data released on Friday published by the General Customs Administration.

Imports increased by 30.1% in 2021, partly due to rising commodity prices. That equated to an annual trade surplus of $676.43 billion, surpassing the previous peak of $593.9 billion set in 2015, according to data provider Wind.

In December, China’s exports rose 20.9% yoy, slowing from November’s 22.0% growth but faster than the 19.0% increase expected by economists polled by the Wall Street Journal . Imports rose 19.5% last month, slower than November’s 31.7% rise and 24.2% growth estimated by economists. The December trade surplus was $94.46 billion, ahead of November and market expectations.

China’s foreign trade has benefited from a quick recovery from the 2020 coronavirus shocks. The government’s strict Covid-19 control measures limited local infections and allowed factories and exporters to continue production and operations despite short-term disruptions from new outbreaks.

The customs agency said Friday that China’s foreign trade — exports and imports combined — surpassed $6 trillion for the first time in 2021.

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