The trade surplus shrank 53.5 percent year on year to 6.45 billion U.S. dollars in January from $13.1 billion in December. Exports rose by 37.7 percent year on year to 150.73 billion U.S. dollars while imports increased by 51 percent to 144.28 billion U.S. dollars, the General Administration of Customs said on its website.
The Chinese New Year fell on Feb. 3 this year, while last year it fell on Feb. 14. Exports and imports were pushed up in January as a result. Because of this both export and import growth would probably slump in February, he said.
The European Union remained China's largest trade partner in 2010, with EU-China trade up 30.5 percent year on year to 45.97 billion U.S. dollars.
Trade with the United States rose 39.2 percent year on year to 36.87 billion U.S. dollars, while China-Japan trade jumped 42 percent to 27.84 billion U.S. dollars.
Trade between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) surged 34.5 percent to 28.89 billion U.S.dollars. The deficit with ASEAN nations multiplied by a factor of 4.4 to 2.17 billion U.S. dollars.
China's trade with emerging economies climbed significantly: trade with India was up 44.2 percent to 6.66 billion U.S. dollars; and with Brazil up 74.8 percent to 5.99 billion yuan.
Global stocks and commodity prices climbed higher, with the surprisingly strong imports highlighting China's massive appetite for raw materials and its solid export growth hinting at solidifying recoveries in the U.S. and European economies.
Copper and iron ore prices ran near record highs for much of January and oil was also costly, pushing up China's import bill.
Commodity-exporting countries were the clear beneficiaries. Imports from South Africa were up 212.5 percent year on year, while shipments from Canada and Brazil were up 146.7 percent and 95.4 percent, respectively.