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International Finance

China’s Exports Hit Fresh Record in 2021 on Solid Global Demand

Gantry cranes and shipping containers at the Yangshan Deepwater Port in Shanghai, China, on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022. China vowed more measures to stabilize trade as pressure builds on the government to bolster the economy amid worsening domestic Covid outbreaks. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

China’s record-breaking export strength continued into December, pushing the annual trade surplus to a new high and providing support for a slowing economy dragged down by a property-market slump and sporadic Covid outbreaks.

The trade surplus reached $94.5 billion for the month, according to Bloomberg calculations based on a customs administration release, higher than the $74 billion median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists. For the full year, the trade surplus hit $676 billion.

Exports in December were $340.5 billion, taking the full year total to $3.36 trillion. Imports were $246 billion in December and $2.69 trillion for the year.

Ever-Rising Exports

The data confirms the picture seen all year — strong demand for Chinese goods of all kinds as the nation’s factories pumped out everything from electronics to garden furniture. But trade growth is expected to slow in the new year, as demand for work-from-home technology and health care equipment slows and consumption shifts toward services as the rest of world starts to live with Covid.

The dependence on Chinese production may be reduced if production in places like Southeast Asia recovers. An omicron outbreak in China is also sending jitters through supply chains, as the nation’s production and shipping face disruptions from virus containment measures.


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