China’s export growth unexpectedly accelerated in July, providing an encouraging boost to the economy, which is struggling to recover from a sharp drop caused by COVID-19, although imports remained weak.

Shipments rose 18.0 percent in July from a year earlier, the fastest pace this year, official customs data showed on Sunday, compared with a 17.9 percent increase in June and beating analysts’ expectations, who had expected 15.0%.

Analysts had expected exports to ease amid growing signs of a slowdown in global consumption, writes Reuters.

What is happening to exports from China?

A global factory survey released last week showed demand weakened in July, with orders and output indices falling to their weakest levels since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.

China’s official manufacturing survey showed activity contracted last month, raising fears that the economy’s recovery from widespread shutdowns in the spring will be slower and bumpier than expected.

Analysts’ calculations, turned upside down

But there were signs that transportation and supply chain disruptions caused by the gridlock continued to ease, just in time for shippers gearing up for peak year-end shopping demand.

Imports rose 2.3 percent from a year earlier, up from June’s 1 percent rise and missing the 3.7 percent growth forecast.

Analysts had expected import momentum to pick up modestly in the second half of the year, supported by equipment and construction-related staples as the government ramps up infrastructure spending.

Last month, China ran a record trade surplus of $101.26 billion on the back of low imports but solid export growth. Analysts had forecast a trade surplus of $90.0 billion.

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