China’s exports accelerated surprisingly in June 2021, growing by 32.2% y/y, above the broad expectations and higher than the 27.9% increase in the previous month.

Import growth, on the other hand, decelerated to 36.7% y/y after three consecutive months of acceleration driven by the low base effect in the first months of 2020 and the steady recovery of China’s domestic demand. The higher export growth and the lower import growth pushed China’s trade surplus up to USD 51.5bn, the highest level since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In June 2021, China’s exports reached USD 281.4bn from USD 263.9bn in May, while imports increased to USD 229.9bn from USD 218.4bn in the previous month. On a year-to-date basis, China’s exports in the first six months of the year stood at USD 1.5tn, up by 38.6% y/y. Imports in the same period reached USD 1.3tn, up by 36% y/y, while the trade surplus for the same period was USD 256.98bn against USD 167.2bn in H1 2020.

Exports to Asia, Europe, and Latin America Surged in June

The exports’ acceleration in June was driven by the post-COVID recovery in global demand and the improved economic sentiment. Exports to China’s major trade partners in Asia - South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong SAR - rose by 36.4% y/y, 26% y/y, and 43.1% y/y in June, respectively, which represented higher annual growth than in the previous month. Exports to the EU and Latin America also accelerated compared to May, while the growth of exports to Africa remained unchanged at 40.8% y/y.

Exports to the US, China’s largest trade partner, increased by 17.8% y/y in June 2021, decelerating from 20.6% y/y in May and 31.2% y/y in April. China’s trade surplus with the US rose for the third consecutive month, to USD 32.6bn in June, the highest value since November 2020.

Sign in to access all datasets for this insight piece here. Alternatively, you can learn more about the CEIC China Premium Database - the premier source for everything you need to know about the Chinese economy, housing an unprecedented wealth of information revealing the drivers of this market.