China's January exports easily exceeded analysts' expectations, rising 7.9 percent from a year earlier, while imports rose by 16.7 percent, also topping forecasts, preliminary data showed on Friday.
The new USA administration has not announced any major initiatives yet, but President Donald Trump has repeatedly accused China of unfair trade practices and talked about slapping a 45% tariff on Chinese imports.
Imports in January surged 25.2% in yuan terms from a year earlier, extending a 10.8% rise in December, the General Administration of Customs said.
The country exported 390,000 tonnes of unwrought aluminium and aluminium products, including primary, alloy and semi-finished aluminium products, in January, unchanged from December's 390,000 tonnes.
China watchers caution that trends in January and February can be distorted by the long Lunar New Year holidays, with business slowing down weeks ahead of time and many firms scaling back operations or closing. Coal imports rose 64.4% from a year ago in January, while those for crude oil climbed 27.5%.
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"The rebound of trade data was partly due to the low base of January previous year", said Deng Haiqing, chief economist with JZ Securities.
Exports increased by 15.9 percent to 1.27 trillion yuan, according to the General Administration of Customs.
China's improving picture for exports after subdued data the prior month follow a better-than-expected economic growth pace of 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter, the first acceleration in two years.
The country's trade surplus widened last month to 354.53 billion yuan ($51.62 billion) from 275.42 billion yuan in December. The sharp rise in China's exports in January ended the nine months of contraction. Trump's tough talk of imposing punitive tariffs on Chinese goods worries USA exporters " The exports were largely driven up by the strong economic recovery in the United States", Hong Hao, chief strategist at BOCOM International in Hong Kong, said.