China posted a September trade surplus of US$15.3 billion, down from August's monthly record of US$18.8 billion, but still sufficient to break last year's annual record with three months of the year still to go. The trade surplus was US$110.9 billion for the first nine months of 2006, surpassing the 2005 full year figure of US$102 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing official statistics. Exports were worth US$91.64 billion in September, up 30.6% year-on-year, while imports posted a 22% rise, hitting US$76.34 billion. Economists only expected a 28% increase in exports and a 20% rise in imports. They put the rise in exports down to suppliers trying to increase shipments ahead of impending cuts in tax rebates on goods such as coal and textiles. Lower rebates serve to raise costs for exporters.