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China's exports better than expected

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BEIJING, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- China's exports outperformed market expectations in November due to improved data in the United States and the European Union.

Exports went up 12.7 percent year on year in November and imports gained 5.3 percent year on year, according to the General Administration of Customs on Sunday.

November's export growth is above the market expectation of 7.0 percent, thanks to improved data in the United States and the European Union, said Liu Ligang, chief Greater China economist at ANZ Banking Group.

Foreign trade stood at 370.6 billion U.S. dollars in November, including 202.2 billion U.S. dollars of exports and 168.4 billion U.S. dollars of imports.

Trade surplus hit 33.8 billion U.S. dollars in November, the second month for China to report more than 30 billion U.S. dollars of trade surplus, Liu said.

In the eleven months, foreign trade gained 7.7 percent year on year to 3.8 trillion U.S. dollars.

China targeted foreign trade growth of 8 percent year on year in 2013. The target is higher than last year's real growth but below the 10 percent target set for last year.

Peng Wensheng, chief economist of China International Capital Corporation, said the Christmas season contributed to the rebound in November's exports.

Another reason for the year-on-year growth was the relatively low basis in November 2012, Peng said.

Chen Hufei, an expert with the Bank of Communications, warned "inflated export growth" was another possible factor to boost exports.

"Inflated export growth" basically involves arbitrage trading. It means that companies may misreport exports to obtain tax rebates or bypass government fund controls to channel fund into the mainland to profit from gaps in foreign exchange rates and interests rates.

"Inflated export growth" existed in exports of the first half year, Liu echoed.

But Zhao Jinping of the State Council's Development and Research Center took it as "negligible", though it might have existed.

Such behavior has prompted authorities to tighten supervision on trade flow.

The foreign exchange regulator on Saturday vowed to intensify supervision of commercial banks' trade finance to curb fake financing and prevent abnormal flows of cross-border foreign exchanges.

It will also step up supervision on companies with abnormal trade balances, especially those with abnormal rises in long-term trade financing and having typical traits of arbitrage.

Despite the upbeat data, Chinese manufacturers will still face difficulties as they are losing traditional competitive edges in prices because of higher costs and rising yuan, Zhao said.

The sharp trade surplus in November may further aggravate pressure for the yuan to appreciate, Chen echoed.

The November data is in line with China's official figures on its manufacturing expansion.

The purchasing managers' index stood at 51.4, the same as October, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

A reading below 50 indicates contraction, while that above 50 signals expansion.

China's economic growth in the first nine months stood at 7.7 percent, well above the government's full-year target of 7.5 percent.

Its next quarterly release on economic performances will be due in January 2014.

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