China's trade surplus narrows to US$14.51b

2011-10-13 14:57:10

China's politically sensitive trade surplus fell to US$14.51 billion in September as exports slowed sharply, official data showed Thursday, amid economic turmoil in the United States and Europe.

The data is likely to fuel concerns about China's vast manufacturing sector, which employs millions of workers and has been contracting for several months as overseas demand for Chinese-made clothes and gadgets weakens.

Exports rose 17.1 per cent year on year to US$169.7 billion, compared with a yearly rise of 24.5 per cent in August, the customs agency said in a statement.

Imports expanded by 20.9 per cent to US$155.2 billion in September from a year earlier, compared with an increase of 30.2 per cent in August.

The closely watched trade surplus fell from US$17.8 billion in August, marking the second straight month of contraction.

Economists had forecast a US$17.25 billion trade surplus, according to a Dow Jones Newswires survey.

The figure is a perennial point of contention for China's key trade partners, the United States and Europe, who argue the country's currency is grossly undervalued, which gives its exporters an unfair advantage.

Earlier this week the US Senate passed legislation to punish China for its alleged currency manipulation -- a charge Beijing has repeatedly denied.

China has denounced the bill as a "ticking time-bomb" that threatens to blow up trade ties between the economic superpowers, and US House Speaker John Boehner has signalled he would block the bill to prevent a "trade war".