Oct. 13 (UPI) -- China's imports and exports increased in September as domestic demand recovered amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to official statistics.
Beijing's General Administration of Customs said Tuesday the value of imports increased by about 13% year-on-year, to $202.76 billion. The increase has surpassed expectations, including a market forecast of a 0.4% increase for September.
Amid the pandemic and an ongoing trade war with the United States, the Chinese government has urged the public to open their wallets to boost the economy.
The import data could have been higher than expected because of a grain shortage in China following weeks of floods and crop damage in the country. Data show grain imports surged 35% year-on-year. Chinese imports of meat and soybeans also jumped 41% and 18% respectively, according to South Korean newspaper Seoul Economic Daily.
Government data for September also show Chinese exports recovering by about 10%, year-on-year, a number that met expectations on Tuesday. China's recovery from the pandemic may have enabled Chinese firms to export large quantities of antiviral gear, including face masks.
China's development of a COVID-19 vaccine has been followed by promises from Beijing to share its know-how with other countries. On Sunday, China said it would help Cambodia with vaccine accessibility during a meeting of top officials, according to Chinese state media.
China's trade practices are coming under new scrutiny, however.
Beijing said it would ban imports of Australian thermal and coking coal, citing a national goal of reducing carbon emissions, the South China Morning Post reported Tuesday.
Commodities analysts say the decision is politically motivated, according to the report. Australia has begun to work closer together with the United States on security in the region, a policy that China has condemned as a plot against Beijing.