China’s exports significantly missed expectations in August, with the country’s trade surplus shrinking as overseas demand flattened and a new wave of COVID-19 restrictions at home disrupted production and logistics, reports the Financial Times. Exports rose 7.1% last month compared with the same period a year earlier, well below consensus expectations of a 13% increase and down from 18% growth in July, official customs data showed on Wednesday. The fall represented the first slowdown since April.
The country’s trade balance narrowed to a $79.4 billion surplus, compared with market expectations of $92.7 billion, after reaching a record high of $101.3 billion in July.
Trade had been a rare bright spot for the Chinese economy, which has been hammered by a liquidity crisis in the property sector and widespread lockdowns as part of leader Xi Jinping’s zero-COVID strategy. Analysts said this month’s slowdown represented the beginning of the end of the export boom that had provided a lifeline to the world’s second-largest economy after the early stages of the pandemic in 2020.