YANTAI, CHINA – DECEMBER 5, 2023 – A large number of Chinese-made cars are ready for loading for export at Yantai Port in Yantai, Shandong Province, China, December 5, 2023. (Image credit should read: CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

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BEIJING – China’s exports unexpectedly rose in November while imports fell slightly from a year earlier, according to customs data released on Thursday.

Exports in U.S. dollar terms rose 0.5% from a year earlier, against expectations for a 1.1% decline, according to analysts polled by Reuters.

Imports fell 0.6% in U.S. dollars, missing the Reuters forecast of a 3.3% rise from a year earlier.

The subdued change in trade barely offset the overall decline in Chinese exports and imports of about 5% to 6% in the first 11 months of 2023.

Bruce Pang, chief economist and head of research for Greater China at JLL, attributed the rise in exports to companies’ strategy of cutting prices in recent months to boost volumes.

“External demand is still relatively weak and holiday orders are lower than expected,” Pang said in Chinese, translated by CNBC.

“In general, the data shows that there are major challenges in both domestic and external demand and policy support that focuses only on the supply side cannot achieve lasting results,” he said.

The value of Chinese exports to the U.S. rose 7% in November compared to a year earlier, according to CNBC calculations of official data.

In contrast, China’s exports to the European Union fell 14.5% year-on-year in November and those to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations fell 7%, the analysis showed.

Overall, China’s exports of toys and electronics saw an increase, while exports of cars posted another double-digit year-on-year increase in November. Exports of clothing, shoes and furniture fell compared to the previous year.

On the import front, China bought less from the U.S. and Southeast Asia in November than a year ago, while purchases of goods from the EU increased slightly, the data showed.

Last month, China bought less crude oil and imports fell in both price and volume. However, China’s imports of rare earths roughly doubled in November compared to the previous year.

China’s imports unexpectedly rose in October in U.S. dollars compared with a year earlier, according to customs data released last week. In contrast, exports fell by a larger-than-expected 6.4% during the period, the data showed.

Demand for Chinese goods has fallen this year as global growth slows.

A monthly Caixin survey of manufacturers, known as the Purchasing Managers’ Index, rose to a three-month high of 50.7 in November.

However, Wang Zhe, senior economist at Caixin Insight Group, said in a report that “external demand remained sluggish and the measure of new export orders contracted for the fifth consecutive month.”

China’s statistics bureau said its manufacturing purchasing managers’ index unexpectedly fell to 49.4 in November from 49.5 in October.

—CNBC’s Clement Tan contributed to this report.

Source : www.cnbc.com

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