BEIJING, March 8 (UPI) -- China's February exports, spurred by demands from the United States and other markets, rose 21.8 percent annually to $139.37 billion, a government agency said.
In a further demonstration of China's strong recovery in its foreign trade, the General Administration of Customs said Friday imports fell 15.2 percent year-on-year to $124.12 billion, yielding a monthly trade surplus of $15.25 billion.
In February of last year, China had a trade deficit of $31.98 billion.
The agency said, however, the numbers would be different when making allowance for seasonally-adjusted factors such as four fewer working days in February due to the Spring Festival.
Economist Wang Jun at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges said the better-than-expected exports were due to the steady recovery of the Chinese, United States and emerging economies, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Wang said the lower imports were due to a stronger U.S. dollar and falling prices for commodity goods as well as importers building inventories prior to the holidays.
In the first two months of this year, trade with the European Union, China's largest trade partner, rose 3 percent while trade with the United States, its second-largest trade partner, increased 14.8 percent.
Trade with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations rose 22 percent but trade with Japan was down 8.2 percent, the report said.
Analysts said the sharp jump in the February trade surplus may renew pressure on China to let its yuan appreciate more because a cheaper yuan gives the country an unfair trade advantage.
Chen Hufei, a researcher with the Bank of Communications, told Xinhua imports would grow as China's economic recovery continues in coming months.
China's economy grew 7.8 percent in 2012. It was higher than the government's target of 7.5 percent, but lower than the 9.3 percent in 2011.
For this year, the government has again set a growth target of 7.5 percent. It also plans to grow its total foreign trade volume by around 8 percent in 2013.