China export growth picked up pace in January, rising 42% year on year, against 33% growth in December, Xinhua reported. Analysts had expected that a weaker U.S. dollar would slow the pace of growth. Growth in imports remained virtually unchanged at 24% while the trade surplus hit US$6.48bn, a figure described by Xinhua as a monthly high in recent years. Trade with the European Union grew by 36% to US$15.9bn, while trade with the US rose 31% to US$14.3bn, Xinhua said. China's exports for the whole of 2004 hit a record US$593.4bn, 35% up on 2003.