Imports surged 21.4 percent year-on-year to USD 183.27 billion in October, easily beating market expectations of 14 percent and following a 14.3 percent growth in a month earlier. China's unwrought copper imports jumped 28.2 percent from a year earlier to 423,000 tonnes but slumped 18.7 percent from September's 520,000 tonnes. Also, imports of copper concentrate rose 14.5 percent to 1.57 million tonnes, but dropped 18.7 percent from a month earlier of 1.93 million tonnes. In addition, purchases of iron ore were up 11.2 percent year-on-year to 88.40 million tonnes, but were down 5.4 percent from September's 93.47 million tonnes. Imports of crude oil surged 31.5 percent year-on-year to a record high of 40.8 million tonnes, and rose 9.6 percent from September's 37.21 million tonnes. Arrivals of natural gas grew 25.6 percent year-on-year to 7.30 million tonnes, but fell 4.2 percent from September's 7.62 million tonnes. Meanwhile, imports of soybeans went up 18.1 percent year-on-year to 6.92 million tonnes, but were down 13.6 percent from September's 8.01 million tonnes. Chinese buyers have been scooping up Brazilian beans after Beijing in July imposed a 25 percent tariff on US products worth USD 34 billion, including soybeans.
Exports rose 15.6 percent to USD 217.28 billion, after a 14.5 percent rise in September. Figure was above market consensus of a 11 percent rise, as firms increased shipments before stiffer US tariffs hit in January 2019. China's unwrought aluminium and aluminium product exports surged 37.7 percent year-on-year to 482,000 tonnes, but were down 3.6 percent month-on-month from a downwardly revised 500,000 tonnes in September. China is the world's top producer of steel and aluminium. The US has imposed tariffs of 25 percent on Chinese steel imports and 10 percent on aluminium imports since March 23rd. However, a lower yuan has helped Chinese metal exports. China's steel product exports went up 10.4 percent year-on-year to 5.50 million tonnes in October and fell 7.6 percent from a revised figure of 5.95 million tonnes in September. Chinese aluminium exports are expected to surge further in coming months after Beijing boosted tax rebates for exports of semi-fabricated aluminium, or semis, to 16 percent from 13 percent with effect from 1st November. Exports of crude oil edged up 0.3 percent year-on-year to 0.14 million tonnes; coal went up 0.1 percent to 0.48 million tonnes; and sales of rice surged 106.1 percent to 187 million tonnes.
The trade surplus with the US
, China's largest export market, narrowed to USD 31.78 billion in October from a fresh record high of USD 34.13 billion in September. Exports to the country rose 13.2 percent, while imports contracted 1.8 percent. October was the first full month after the latest US tariffs went into effect. Over the first ten months of the year, the trade surplus with the US widened markedly to USD 258.15 billion from USD 222.98 billion in the same period a year earlier.
In yuan-denominated terms, China's trade surplus came in at CNY 233.63 billion in October, as imports grew at a faster 26.3 percent, while exports went up 20.1 percent.