BEIJING (AP) — China's exports grew in November for the first time in nine months while imports also rose in a sign global and domestic demand are recovering.
Exports rose 0.1 percent to $19.7 billion, an improvement over October's 7.3 percent contraction, customs data showed Thursday. Imports rose 6.7 percent to $15.2 billion, up from the previous month's 1.4 percent decline.
The trade slump has added to pressure on communist leaders to prop up weak economic growth and avoid politically dangerous job losses.
"Better-than-expected trade data out of China today reflects both an uptick in global demand as well as the continued strength of the domestic economy," said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report.
Growth in the world's second-largest economy held steady at 6.7 percent over a year earlier in the quarter ending in September, shored up by twin booms in credit and real estate sales. Forecasters expect growth to weaken as regulators tighten lending controls and try to cool housing costs.
China's global trade surplus was $44.6 billion, while its surplus with the United States was $23.1 billion, a figure that might help to fuel pressure for trade controls under U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who has threatened to raise tariffs on Chinese goods.
"We remain cautious on the export outlook, given the still unconvincing global demand recovery and policy uncertainty in the U.S. after Mr. Trump's election win," Louis Kuijs of Oxford Economics said in a report.
November's trade gains were even stronger when measured in China's currency, which has weakened against the dollar. In yuan terms, exports rose 5.9 percent from a year earlier while imports jumped 13 percent.
Still, despite the latest improvement, exports for the first 11 months of the 2016 are down 7.5 percent from a year ago. In 2015, exports fell 2.8 percent for the full year.
"The medium-term outlook for Chinese trade remains challenging," said Evans-Pritchard. "While global demand has recovered somewhat recently, lower trend growth in many developed and emerging economies means that further upside is probably limited."