BEIJING - China's trade surplus jumped to an all-time monthly high in October, according to official data released yesterday, despite government pledges to restrain export growth, adding to pressure for action on trade barriers and currency.
The report comes amid demands by some US lawmakers for sanctions if Beijing fails to ease currency controls. The European Union says it also will press China for action at a summit this month.
China's trade surplus for the first 10 months jumped 59 percent to $212.4 billion, according to figures released by the General Administration of Customs. The annual surplus already has surpassed the full-year record of $177.5 billion, set in 2006.
October's trade gap rose to $27.05 billion, up 13.6 percent from the same month last year, according to the customs data. The previous monthly record high was $26.9 billion in June.
Chinese leaders say they are not actively pursuing huge surpluses and have imposed new taxes to restrain exports of steel, plastic, and other goods deemed too dirty or energy-intensive.
Foreign demand for low-cost Chinese goods has stayed strong despite a string of foreign recalls and warnings over faulty or tainted Chinese goods ranging from toothpaste to tires.
The surge in import revenue has strained the government's ability to restrain pressure for prices to rise. The central bank drains billions of dollars a month from the economy through bond sales, and has piled up the world's biggest foreign reserves at $1.3 trillion.
China's trade surplus with the United States rose 12 percent to $15.7 billion on total two-way trade of $26.7 billion, according to the customs agency. US lawmakers are working on several proposals to impose punitive tariffs on Chinese imports if Beijing fails to take action on its currency controls.
The United States and other trading partners complain that China's currency, the yuan, is kept undervalued, giving its exporters an unfair price advantage and adding to the country's surpluses.
The surplus with Europe, China's biggest trading partner, rose nearly 50 percent to $13.9 billion on total trade of $31.4 billion, the agency reported.
A European Union delegation led by Prime Minister Jose Socrates of Portugal, which holds the 25-nation group's presidency, will press Chinese leaders for action to ease trade barriers and to let the yuan rise faster in value, EU Ambassador Serge Abou said yesterday.
The comments reflected Europe's growing official urgency about China's swollen trade surpluses, an area where Washington has taken the lead in the past on lobbying Beijing.
China's imports in October climbed 25.5 percent from the same month a year earlier to $80.7 billion, according to the agency. Exports grew by 22.3 percent to $107.7 billion.
The United States reported a $232.5 billion trade deficit with China last year, its biggest ever with any country.