Trade data for last month beat expectations as Chinese exports returned to positive growth. This has largely been attributed to distorting effects of the Lunar New Year holiday, however, and is unlikely to reflect improvements in domestic demand.
Exports grew 9.1% year-on-year in January in dollar terms, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, compared with a market average forecast of -3.2%. The month before exports declined by 4.4% as trade war effects took root.
Imports also outperformed, falling 1.5% compared with a year earlier. Though reflecting persistently low consumption and investment, this was nevertheless a smaller decline than in December. The total trade surplus for January was $32.9 billion.
The fact that the seven-day Spring Festival holiday falls at a different time in January or February each year makes it difficult to compare trade data during these two months. However, Chinese trade continues to battle a number of headwinds, including slowing global demand and the possibility of not reaching a trade deal with the US.