China's trade surplus in US dollar terms narrowed from $41.99 billion in August to $28.47 billion in September, falling well short of the consensus forecast of $37.3 billion. Driving this fall in the surplus, imports grew faster than expected, while export growth was weaker than anticipated. Year-on-year growth in exports picked up from 5.5 percent in August to 8.1 percent in September, below the consensus forecast of 9.6 percent, while year-on-year growth in imports increased from 13.3 percent to 18.7 percent, above the consensus forecast of 14.0 percent.
The increase in exports growth in September was mainly driven by demand from outside of the region. Chinas exports to the United States grew by 13.8 percent on the year, up from 8.4 percent in August, while year-on-year growth in China's exports to the European Union accelerated from 5.2 percent to 10.5 percent. Exports to Japan, however, were flat on the year after increasing by 1.1 percent in August.
In seasonally adjusted terms, Chinese exports advanced 4.4 percent on the month in September after dropping 1.5 percent in August. Seasonally adjusted imports, meanwhile, surged 11.9 percent on the month in September after declining by 0.9 percent in August. In line with trade data published by other countries in the region, these stronger monthly growth rates for both Chinese exports and imports suggest that the recent escalation in tensions between the North Korean regime and its neighbours has had little impact on regional trade flows.
In year-to-date terms, China's trade surplus amounted to $295.58 billion for the first nine months of 2017, more than 25 percent below the $396.36 billion surplus recorded in the same period for 2016. Exports have risen 7.5 percent on the year-to-date, while imports have advanced 17.3 percent
In domestic currency terms, China's trade surplus narrowed from CNY286.5 billion in August to CNY193.0 billion in September. Exports grew 9.0 percent on the year in yuan terms in September, up from 6.9 percent in August, while year-on-year growth in imports in yuan terms picked up from 14.4 percent to 19.5 percent