Year-on-year import growth for emerging Asian economies topped 13% in July, far higher than any other sector of the world economy, according to the Netherlands Central Planning Bureau.

Import vol yoy change

Export growth for emerging Asia, by contrast, was only about 6%, in line with export growth for other sectors of the world economy.

World export vol yoy growth

The monthly series for trade growth are volatile, and the year-on-year comparison does not take into account seasonal factors. The surge in imports may reflect, in part, Chinese efforts to purchase US products before tariffs come into effect. China’s imports from the US were up about 8% year-on-year in CNY terms.

Given the depreciation of the RMB during 2018, the year-on-year volume number probably is somewhat lower. So the more than 13% year-on-year jump in emerging Asia imports cannot be explained by anticipatory Chinese buying. The likeliest explanation is that the number reflects strong economic growth in emerging Asia.