China’s global trade surplus surged to US$676.4 billion in 2021, likely the highest ever recorded by any country, as exports jumped 29.9 percent over a year earlier despite semiconductor shortages that disrupted manufacturing.
The country’s trade surplus in December swelled 20.8 percent over a year earlier to a monthly record of US$94.4 billion, customs data showed Friday.
Exports rose to US$3.3 trillion in 2021 despite shortages of processor chips for smartphones and other products as global demand rebounded from the pandemic. Manufacturers also were hampered by power rationing imposed in some areas.
Although China piled up a series of monthly export surpluses last year, trade grew more slowly in December as the world's second-largest economy showed signs of slowing.
Exports rose 20.9 percent year on year last month, after increasing 22 percent in November. Imports climbed 19.5 percent in December, down from a 31.7 percent gain the month before.
China's swelling trade surplus in 2021 prompted less criticism from the United States and other trading partners than in earlier years as they focused on containing coronavirus infections.
The surplus with the US, one of the irritants behind a lingering trade war, rose 25.1 percent in 2021 over a year earlier to US$396.6 billion.
Mainland exporters benefited from being allowed to resume normal business much earlier in the pandemic than their foreign competitors.
Most forecasters had expected them to also benefit from the spread of omicron. But recent outbreaks of the coronavirus variant have seen lockdowns and transport restrictions imposed on cities, including Tianjin - the manufacturing centre where the local transmission of omicron was first detected on the mainland. (AP, Reuters)