China’s exports gain steam but outlook cloudy
China's export growth unexpectedly picked up speed in July, offering an encouraging boost to the economy as its struggles to recover from a Covid-induced slump, but weakening global demand could start to drag on shipments in coming months.
Exports rose 18.0 per cent in July from a year earlier, the fastest pace this year, official customs data showed on Sunday, compared with a 17.9 per cent increase in June and beating analysts' expectations for a 15.0 per cent gain.
Outbound shipments have been one of the few bright spots for the Chinese economy in 2022, as widespread lockdowns hit businesses and consumers hard and the once mighty property market lurches from crisis to crisis.
"China's export growth surprised again on the upside. (It) continues to help China's economy in a difficult year as domestic demand remains sluggish," said Zhiwei Zhang, chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management.
However, many analysts have expected exports to fade as the global economy looks increasingly likely to be heading into a serious slowdown, weighed down by soaring prices and rising interest rates.
A global factory survey released last week showed demand weakened in July, with orders and output indexes falling to their weakest levels since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020.
China's official manufacturing survey indicated activity contracted last month, raising fears that the economy's recovery from lockdowns in spring will be slower and bumpier than expected.