A worker walks past a freight boat at a port in Qingdao, China on April 10, 2012.
A worker walks past a freight boat at a port in Qingdao, China on April 10, 2012. - 
Listen To The Story
Marketplace

David Brancaccio: A slew of economic indicators from China over the weekend were downbeat: industrial output lower, retail sales down, the list goes on. But there was one interesting surprise: Overseas shipments from China are up more than 15 percent over last year. That's double what the experts predicted.

We asked Marketplace's China Bureau Chief, Rob Schmitz, to find out why.  


Rob Schmitz: With so much doom and gloom out there in the global economy, a boost in Chinese exports doesn't seem to compute.   

Shanghai-based economist Andy Rothman was surprised.

Andy Rothman: Exports to the United States were up 23 percent year-on-year last month. To the ASEAN countries -- 28 percent. Japan -- up 13.

Even exports from China to the EU were up more than 3 percent, despite the economic crisis there. So what does this say about the US economy?  

Rothman: The U.S. economy is not doing badly as many people have thought. But you don't want to put too much reliance on just one month's worth of data. Over the course of the year, though, Chinese exports to the U.S. have been holding up relatively well. 

Rothman says these numbers may be encouraging, but export growth is a small part of China's GDP calculation. What's more important is that exports don't collapse as they did a few years ago, causing 20 million lay-offs.

In Shanghai, I'm Rob Schmitz for Marketplace.

 

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.

Follow Rob Schmitz at @rob_schmitz