Imports rose 14.1 percent from a year earlier to USD 175.1 billion in June, missing forecasts of a 20.8 percent growth, and compared with a 26 percent rise in May. China's coal imports rose 18 percent from a year ago to 25.47 million tonnes in June, and were above May's 22.33 million tonnes, as utilities went on a buying spree to shore up electricity generation. Purchases of unwrought copper imports went up 14.9 percent year-on-year to 448,000 tonnes, but fell 4.7 percent from May's figure of 470,000 tonnes. Also, imports of soybeans increased by 13.1 percent to 8.7 million tonnes, as buyers scooped up Brazilian supplies to avoid potentially higher costs on US soybeans that are subject to Beijing's tariffs. However, shipments were down 10.1 percent from last month's 9.68 million tonnes. In addition, arrivals of vegetable oils surged 35.6 percen to 529,000 tonnes, but were down 11.8 percent from May. On the other hand, China's iron ore imports dropped to 83.24 million tonnes last month, down from May's 94.14 million tonnes and from 94.7 million tonnes in June last year. Crude oil imports fell for a second month in a row in June to 34.35 million tonnes, or 8.36 million barrels per day, the lowest since December. That was down 9 percent from 9.2 million bpd in May and also down from 8.8 million bpd in June last year.
Exports grew 11.3 percent to USD 216.7 billion, beating forecasts for a 10 percent increase and following a 12.6 percent gain in May. Unwrought aluminium and aluminium product exports were 510,000 tonnes last month, their highest level since December 2014, up 10.9 percent from 460,000 tonnes a year ago and from 480,000 tonnes in May. In addition, sales of steel products climbed 1.9 percent year-on-year to 6.94 million tonnes, hitting their highest since July 2017. Exports were up 0.9 percent from 6.88 million tonnes in May.
The trade surplus with the US, China's largest export market, widened to a record USD 28.97 billion in June from USD 24.58 billion in May. Sales grew by 12.6 percent from a year earlier to hit the largest on record of USD 42.6 billion. Meantime, imports grew by 9.6 percent to USD 13.7 billion.
For the first half of this year, the trade surplus narrowed to USD 144.4 billion from USD 184.7 billion in the same period 2017
, as exports rose 12.4 percent and imports grew 19.7 percent. The six-month trade surplus with the US surged 13.8 percent to USD 133.76 billion, as exports increased by 13.6 percent and imports by 11.8 percent.
In yuan-denominated terms, China's trade surplus came in at CNY 261.9 billion in June
, as imports increased by 6 percent and exports expanded 3.1 percent. Over the January-June period, the trade surplus dropped 26.7 percent to CNY 901.32 billion, with exports increasing by 4.9 percent and imports by 11.5 percent.