Chinese economy flourished in April amid global coronavirus threats

China’s exports rose 8.2 percent year on year in yuan terms in April while imports fell 10.2 percent, official data showed Thursday.

Foreign trade of goods inched down 0.7 percent year on year in April to 2.5 trillion yuan ($352.5 billion), the General Administration of Customs said.

China’s coal imports in April surged 22% from a year earlier, as traders scrambled to snap up low-cost coal from the seaborne market amid plunging demand for the fuel worldwide because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The world’s largest coal buyer imported 30.95 million tonnes of coal last month, according to the official data from the General Administration of Customs released on Thursday.

That compares to 27.83 million tonnes imported in March and 25.3 million tonnes in April 2019.

Imports over the January to April period jumped 26.9% to 126.73 million tonnes, customs said. A customs statement published earlier on Thursday initially provided a rounded figure that was higher for January to April imports, resulting in a larger calculated figure for April imports.

Weekly spot prices of benchmark thermal coal from Australia’s Newcastle Port were $49 a tonne as of May 4, the lowest since February 2016. It plummeted 28% from a peak of $68.25 in January, before China imposed widespread lockdowns to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

Prices for Chinese domestic thermal coal with same quality were around 475 yuan ($66.94) a tonne as of May 4, according to data from China Coal Market.

Having eased curbs to retain the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, China has been striving to resume industrial operations and to encourage residential consumption in order to bring the economy back to normal.

China’s electricity consumption has rebounded in April, which helped to support demand for coal, the most widely used fuel for power generation.