Trade surplus jumps sharply in China

Beijing, February 13:

China’s trade surplus rose by 46.7 per cent in January year-on-year to $9.49 billion, the government said today, adding fuel to US-led efforts for Beijing to quickly revalue its currency.

Imports for the month totalled $55.5 billion, up by 25.4 per cent, while exports rose by 28.1 per cent to $64.9 billion, the ministry of commerce reported on its website.

Overall trade in January this year was valued at $120.49 billion, up by 26.8 per cent from the same month in 2005. The trade surplus in January edged lower from $11 billion in December last year. But it was well up on the $6.49 billion surplus recorded in January 2005. It also comes in the wake of China announcing last month that its trade surplus for 2005 had more than tripled from the previous year to a record $101.9 billion.

The growing surplus has caused much friction with many of China’s trade partners, most notably the United States, who argue Beijing has an unfair trading advantage due to the yuan being kept artificially weak. In response to that pressure, China last year scrapped yuan’s 11-year-old peg ag-ainst the dollar and linked it with an undisclosed basket of currencies.

The yuan was also allowed to move 0.3 per cent either way on any given day.

Retail sales

SHANGHAI: China said on Monday retail sales would rise by around 12.5 per cent and inflation would remain stable in the first six months of the year, as macro-economic reforms make progress. Retail sales in the first half of 2006 will increase by 12.5 per cent more or less. — AFP