The strong export data was announced as two days of high-level trade talks between the United States and China began in Beijing. The negotiations are being led by Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on the US side, and by Vice Premier Liu He for China.
Optimism has been rising among investors that an agreement can be reached. US President Donald Trump said this week he’s willing to stretch his March 1 deadline if it appears the two sides are close to a deal.
Despite the rebound in China’s exports in January, analysts are skeptical it will last.
Exports may have spiked because Chinese businesses rushed through orders ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, which fell in early February. The annual holiday, in which the country effectively shuts down for at least a week, came later in February last year.
A slowdown in global growth will weigh on demand for Chinese goods, regardless of whether a US-China trade deal is reached, according to Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at research firm Capital Economics.
“Even if the latest recovery in trade is genuine, the outlook for this year is still downbeat,” he wrote in a note to clients Thursday.
Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.