China November trade data shows strong exports but soft imports

China reports larger trade surplus

China imports
  • Exports (USD) +21.1% y/y vs +12.0% exp
  • Imports (USD) +4.5% y/y vs +7.0% exp
  • Trade balance +$75.4B vs +$53.7B
This isn’t a great sign. Strong exports are good on the face of it but that says more about the economy right now than in the future. The soft imports number though suggests that China sees slower demand going forward.
At the same time, I hate to draw any conclusions because of all the skews from the pandemic. A 4.5% y/y increase in imports in a global economy that has shrunk and is at peak pandemic isn’t exactly a red flag.