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. - 
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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.


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Follow Rob Schmitz at @rob_schmitz