China's exports expanded much faster than expected in November but the annual increase in imports outpaced export growth, data from the General Administration of Customs showed Friday.
Trade of private enterprises grew 16.9 percent to 9.68 trillion yuan in the first 11 months, accounting for 38.5 percent of the total, and 0.4 percentage points higher than the same period previous year.
Similarly, imports surged 17.7% in November from a year ago, faster than the expected growth of 13.0%.
In dollar terms, exports advanced 12.3% year-over-year in November, well above the 5.9% rise economists had forecast.
Besides ramped-up efforts to reduce winter pollution, authorities unveiled fresh regulatory measures last month for the financial sector, clamping down on high-risk lending and halting some dubious infrastructure projects that would swell local governments' debt.
Unwrought copper arrivals hit their highest since December 2016, concentrate and ore shipments were their highest on record and iron ore imports were among the highest ever.
Customs data also showed that a leading indicator for China's exports rebounded from 41.6 to 41.8 month on month in November, signalling positive potential in exports.
The data underscored the resilience of China's heavy industry, even as many steel mills, aluminum producers and other manufacturers in the world's top consumer of industrial raw materials prepared for deep production cuts as part of Beijing's blitz on winter smog. Coal imports grew marginally, rising from 22.05 million tonnes from 21.28 million tonnes.
The rebound in imports come as China's yuan has fallen 2.8 percent against the dollar since hitting its 2017 peak on September 8.
The trade surplus, a source of tension with major trade partners, came in at $40.2 billion, down from $43.1 billion a year earlier but more than the median projection of $35 billion.
"Overall the market still feels bullish", said NAB analyst Ami Li.
Exports were at 4.35 million tonnes in January-November, up 3.7 percent year on year, customs said.
Iron traders started stockpiling product as prices fell last month in anticipation of stronger demand after the winter months, traders and analysts said.