BEIJING, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- China's foreign trade continued to rebound strongly in January due to more working days last month and a stabilized economic situation, customs data showed Friday.
China's foreign trade surged 26.7 percent year on year to 2.17 trillion yuan (345.59 billion U.S. dollars) in January, according to data from the General Administration of Customs (GAC).
The rise was bigger than the 10.2-percent growth seen in December.
Exports increased 25 percent from one year earlier in January, the fastest pace since April 2011 and up from December's 14.1-percent rise. Imports rose 28.8 percent, a jump from the 6-percent pace from December.
In January, the foreign trade surplus widened 7.7 percent to 183.21 billion yuan, data showed.
"A lower comparative base last year caused by fewer working days has helped push up the growth rate this year," said Li Jian, a foreign trade expert from a research institute at the Ministry of Commerce (MOC).
There were 22 working days in January, 5 days more than last year when the seven-day Spring Festival holiday fell in the first month.
After adjustments to seasonal factors, January data remained bullish, with foreign trade up 8.1 percent year on year, exports up 12.4 percent and imports up 3.4 percent.
Imports continued a recovering trend due to a warming domestic market. Imports of iron ores, coal and steel, which are mainly consumed by domestic infrastructure projects, increased sharply last month, said Chen Hufei, a researcher at the Bank of Communications.
Meanwhile, external demand has improved, Chen said, citing that exports to Europe and the United States has stabilized, and that to emerging markets remained strong.
Friday's data showed that China's foreign trade with the European Union rose 10.5 percent year on year last month to stand at 47.14 billion U.S. dollars. Trade with the United States increased 23.4 percent to 43.72 billion U.S. dollars.
Trade with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations grew 42.9 percent to reach 36.99 billion U.S. dollars. Trade between China's mainland and Hong Kong surged 83 percent to 33.4 billion U.S. dollars.
The data for trade, a key growth driver, may point to a stronger economic rebound in China this year. However, analysts remain cautious over changes in trade in the following months because of a still grim external outlook.
As overseas demand can not be fundamentally improved in the short run and domestic costs keep rising, Chinese exporters need to quickly change their profit models and market choices, said Zhao Xijun, a finance professor at Renmin University, who warned of trade difficulties for 2013.
The government aims to boost foreign trade in tandem with the country's economic expansion in 2013, as external demand is expected to remain slack despite positive domestic factors, MOC spokesman Sheng Laiyun said last month.
Last year, China's annual foreign trade growth slowed to 6.2 percent missing the government's 10-percent target set for 2012.
Many economists have projected higher economic growth for the country this year. The Chinese Academy of Sciences, a government think-tank, forecast 8.4-percent growth for 2013, higher than 7.8 percent realized in 2012.
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