Dow Jones Newswires: China’s trade surplus hit a record in 2021 as exports rose

BEIJING–China’s trade surplus hit a record high in 2021, boosted by strong exports that have topped market expectations since their pandemic recovery.

For the full year, China’s exports rose 29.9% to a new high of $3.36 trillion, beating 2020’s record of $2.6 trillion, according to data released by the General Administration of Customs on Friday.

Imports increased 30.1% in 2021, buoyed in part by soaring commodity prices. That translated to an annual trade surplus of $676.43 billion, surpassing the previous high of $593.9 billion in 2015, according to data provider Wind.

In December, China’s exports rose 20.9% from a year earlier, slowing from November’s 22.0% growth but faster than the 19.0% increase expected by economists polled by The Wall Street Journal. Imports increased 19.5% last month, slower than the 31.7% rise in November and the 24.2% growth estimated by economists. The trade surplus stood at $94.46 billion in December, higher than November’s and market expectations.

China’s foreign trade has benefited from a quick recovery from the coronavirus shocks of 2020. The government’s harsh Covid-19 control measures limited local infections and enabled factories and exporters to continue production and operations, despite short-term disruptions by new outbreaks.

The customs bureau said Friday that China’s foreign trade–exports and imports combined–topped $6 trillion for the first time in 2021.

Write to Singapore Editors at

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