Tuesday, 10 January 2006

Record trade surplus for China -- and Taiwan and Chile too

China's export machine maintains its record-breaking pace. From Reuters:

China had a record monthly trade surplus of about $13 billion in December, data indicated on Monday, a figure likely to lead to further U.S. calls on Beijing to move more quickly to allow the yuan to appreciate.

The December figure, well above the $10.3 billion surplus expected by economists polled by Reuters, brought the excess of exports over imports for all of 2005 to around $104 billion.

The Commerce Ministry issued data for 2005 high-tech trade, including its share of total imports and exports -- enough information for the overall trade figures to be calculated fairly accurately. The final figures may be slightly different.

The Reuters report also said that the National Bureau of Statistics has revised its estimate of gross domestic product after a national census found that the services sector was bigger than previously measured.

Gross domestic product in 2004 was 10.1 percent larger than a year earlier, rather than the previously reported 9.5 percent, the bureau said. Growth for every year back to 1993 was also revised up, except for 1998.

Domestic consumption in China may be bigger, but exports are still key. As a result, China's foreign exchange reserves may have hit US$820 billion at the end of last year, according to a Shanghai Daily report.

Incidentally, Taiwan's trade surplus also hit a record in December, according to a Central News Agency report.

Taiwan's exports reached US$17.17 billion in December, 2005, while imports totaled US$14.25 billion, leaving the country with a trade surplus of US$2.92 billion, the highest single-month record in the history, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) reported Monday.

Exports for the month posted a year-on-year increase of 15.4 percent, while imports recorded a decline of 10.9 percent. The changes represent a historic trade record, according to Hsu Kuo-chung, head of the MOF's department of statistics.

... Taiwan posted a trade surplus of US$7.79 billion for 2005, marking a significant year-on-year growth of 27.2 percent, according to the MOF.

Another report says that Taiwan's trade surplus is expected to hit US$10 billion in 2006.

And a record trade surplus isn't just an Asian phenomenon. Reuters reports Chile's trade surplus.

Chile posted a record annual trade surplus of $9.236 billion in 2005 as its exports climbed by nearly a quarter to almost $40 billion, boosted by the soaring price of copper, central bank figures showed on Monday.

But high prices of commodities did not prevent Australia's trade balance from going the other direction in November. Bloomberg reports:

Australia's trade deficit widened to an eight-month high in November as imports of consumer goods, machinery and aircraft increased, outpacing a gain in exports.

The trade gap rose to A$2.47 billion ($1.8 billion), from a revised A$1.38 billion in October, the Bureau of Statistics said in Sydney today. Imports jumped 7 percent to a record. The statistics agency said problems with a new Customs computer system that caused a backlog in recording imports contributed to November's increase.

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