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Chinese exports to the US unexpectedly rose in May, despite US tariffs. Imports dropped sharply as economists look to a weak year for the Asian giant's economy.
Chinese exports rose 1.1% to $213.8 billion (€188.4 billion) and imports fell 8.5% to $172.2 billion in May, the Chinese customs agency said Monday.
China's trade surplus with the United States widened to a four-month high of $26.89 billion in May according to the data. The figure for April had been $21.01 billion.
Analysts believe exporters may have speeded up their US shipments to avoid the tariffs brought in by US authorities in May. They adjusted their forecasts to a fall in exports for the third quarter, once the tariffs are in place.
China's overall reliance on exports for its economic health have fallen in recent years but they still account for nearly 20% of its gross domestic product (GDP). Most of its exports go to East Asia and the Pacific, according to World Bank figures, followed by Europe and Central Asia and then the United States.
Factory activity in May also contracted more than expected with weak demand reported in an official survey, leading to suggestions authorities in China could step up economic stimulus measures to stabilise financial markets and growth.
Last week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut its 2019 economic growth forecast for China to 6.2%. If this is the final figure, it would represent the country's weakest expansion in 29 years.
jm/rt (Reuters, AP)