China in October posted strong export figures, a positive sign for an economy trying to weather current power shortages and COVID-19 outbreaks.
The country's customs agency said Sunday that exports totaled $300.2 billion, up 27.1% from a year ago. That was down from a 28.1% increase in September but still healthy. Imports came in at $215.7 billion, a 20.6% rise.
Exports and imports are much higher than a year ago, when much of the world was in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is widespread concern that economic headwinds are slowing growth. The world’s second-largest economy grew 4.9% in the three months ending in September, down from 7.9% in the previous quarter.
China’s trade surplus in October was $84.5 billion, up from $66.8 billion the previous month, the customs agency said. The surplus with the U.S. was down slightly to $40.7 billion, compared to $42 billion in September. With the EU, it was $25.9 billion.
China and the U.S. are mired in a trade war that dates from the administration of former President Donald Trump. The U.S. imposed tariffs on Chinese products, and China retaliated with tariffs on American ones. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said last month that she planned frank talks with her Chinese counterparts over their differences.
China’s economy has been buffeted by the government's tough COVID-19-related restrictions – which have depressed domestic travel and consumer demand – and power shortages that have pushed down factory production. Regulators are also cracking down on debt-laden real estate developers, slowing the housing market.