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Dec. 6, 2021, 10:48 p.m. EST

China's Exports Stay Strong as Surplus Contracts in November

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BEIJING--China's exports beat market expectations in November, though the growth rate decelerated from October due to a higher base compared with the same period a year ago.

Outbound shipments rose 22% from a year earlier in November, slowing from a 27% increase in October, the General Administration of Customs said Tuesday. The result surpassed the 16.1% growth rate expected by economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.

Buoyed by robust global demand, exports have been China's single biggest growth driver since the recovery from the pandemic began. The strong growth has repeatedly shrugged off market expectations that exports would soon lose steam after other parts of the world gradually got back online. But the resurgence of coronavirus in China's trade competitors drove demand back to China, where stringent prevention measures kept business and production humming.

Exports to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China's biggest trading partners, grew 22.3% from a year earlier, up from October's 18%, according to calculations by The Wall Street Journal based on official data.

Shipments to the European Union, the No. 2 trading partner, slowed to 33.5% on year, compared with October's 44.3%. Exports to the U.S., the No. 3 trading partner, rose 5.3%, down from 22.7% in October.

Economists have posited that the outbreak of Omicron variant of the coronavirus may pose a complicated impact on China's foreign trade, as it may keep demand for Chinese goods high as many economies are hit hard again by the new variant, while the possible spread of Omicron in Chinese ports may add to logistics strains.

Meanwhile, China's imports increased 31.7% on year in November, when both volumes and prices of imported coal and natural gas rose, the customs bureau said. That compared with a 20.6% increase in October and the 19.8% growth rate expected in the WSJ poll.

China's trade surplus stood at $71.72 billion in November, narrowing from October's $84.5 billion and lower than the $82.2 billion consensus.

Write to Singapore Editors at singaporeeditors@dowjones.com

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