China’s exports unexpectedly surged by 10.6% year-on-year in January, reversing suggestions that the economy is in contraction.
Analysts’ consensus was for the figure to be flat after recent slips in the purchasing managers’ index and other indicators.
Indeed, the extent of the apparent surge in exports has led some market commentators to query the accuracy of the numbers. Some analysts have said it is more likely that companies are overstating the value of export shipments in order to bypass China’s strict capital controls and bring money into the country.
The Chinese authorities vowed to clam down on false reporting last May, but these figures have led to analysts querying whether the practice has returned.
Capital Economics rejected this theory, however. The consultancy said: 'China's exports did far better than expected in January. Over-invoicing as a way to evade capital controls is being touted as one explanation but we can't find much evidence of that- indeed, if anything, this should have suppressed export growth last month.
'Strengthening global demand may have contributed but the key factor will probably prove to have been an unusually large distortion around Chinese New Year.'
Others have queried this theory however, saying that Chinese lunar New Year falling in January this year would have been expected to dampen exports.