China’s trade surplus is one-tenth the official $61 billion reported so far this year after accounting for fake transactions used to disguise hot-money inflows, Bank of America Corp. says.
The true surplus is about $6 billion, according to Lu Ting, Bank of America’s head of Greater China economics in Hong Kong. That would be the smallest for January-April since the nation posted a $10.8 billion deficit in 2004.
Lu’s calculations suggest the surplus shrank instead of tripling from a year earlier, a sign that global demand is restraining rather than boosting the world’s second-largest economy. Bank of America’s estimate underscores the size of possible discrepancies in the trade data, which has been disputed by analysts for four months, and broader skepticism about Chinese statistics from gross domestic product to jobs.
“Growth is weak in China now — the overstated export growth means the real growth is slightly weaker,” said Shen Jianguang, chief Asia economist at Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd. in Hong Kong. “We are expecting to see a fairly big drop in export growth in the coming months” as regulators crack down on so-called hot-money inflows, he said.
The government reported a trade surplus of $18.8 billion for the first four months of 2012.
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