China's 2017 exports rose 7.9% in dollar terms — imports jumped 15.9%

    • China's dollar-denominated trade data for 2017: A 7.9 percent jump in exports and a 15.9 percent rise in imports
    • China's overall trade surplus for 2017 was $422.5 billion
    A worker stands on piles of industrial products before exporting, at a port of Lianyungang, China
    China Daily | Reuters
    A worker stands on piles of industrial products before exporting, at a port of Lianyungang, China

    China reported a 7.9 percent jump in exports and 15.9 percent rise in imports — both in dollar terms — for 2017.

    In yuan terms, exports for the year rose 10.8 percent and imports increased 18.7 percent, the country's General Administration of Customs said Friday.

    China's overall trade surplus for 2017 was $422.5 billion, a decline from 2016.

    China's trade data capped a robust year despite numerous concerns over the health of its economy.

    The world's second-largest economy posted broadly strong data for 2017 on the back of a broad global recovery. That was despite-wide ranging concerns about the Chinese economy, including high debt levels, asset bubbles and a slowdown in industrial sectors.

    In December, exports rose 10.9 percent from a year ago, while imports rose 4.5 percent.

    Economists polled by Reuters expected dollar-denominated exports to rise 9.1 percent from a year ago in December, slowing from the 12.3 percent growth in November.

    Dollar-denominated import growth, meanwhile, was seen at 13 percent in December against a 17.7 percent growth in November, the economists forecast. Trade balance was forecast to be $37 billion in December against $40.21 in November.

    It will be hard for China's foreign trade growth to remain in the double digits this year, Huang Songping, spokesman for the General Administration of Customs, said on Friday at a press briefing.

    While solid global growth is likely to provide some support for Chinese exports in 2018, there will be headwinds, Nomura analysts wrote in a note on Friday.

    "Later this year, we believe real effective exchange rate appreciation and an increase in US protectionism could weigh on Chinese export growth, narrowing the trade surplus further," they added.

    Trade with China is politically sensitive as the world's second-largest economy runs surpluses against many of its trading partners.

    U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly signaled tougher action on what he calls unfair practices that have lead to a massive trade deficit with China.

    On the European front, French President Emmanuel Macron this week also called for greater access to the Chinese markets for French companies.

    Reuters reported last week that China will keep its target for economic growth at "around 6.5 percent" in 2018 — the same as in 2017.