China’s export volume was stronger than expected in July due to recovering external demand, with the monthly trade surplus hitting an all-time high, according to new customs data published on Friday.

Last month, exports surged 14.5 percent from the previous year reaching 212.9 billion U.S. dollars, while imports dropped 1.6 percent to 165.6 billion U.S. dollars, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) said in a statement.

The export growth rate more than doubled from the 7.2-percent rise seen in June. It’s the fastest rate of growth in more than a year.

Trade surplus for July reached an all-time high of 47.3 billion U.S. dollars, soaring by around 170 percent from the previous year, up 50 percent from June, the data showed.

Monthly trade volume went up 6.9 percent year on year to 378.5 billion U.S. dollars in July.

HSBC’s chief China economist Qu Hongbin attributed the strong export figures mainly to further recovery in external demands.

Imports dropped due to a high comparison base from a year earlier and declines in both import volumes and prices for commodities including copper, crude oil and refined oil products, Qu said.

In the first seven months, total trade volume edged up by 2 percent to 2.4 trillion U.S. dollars, with exports up 3 percent to 1.28 trillion U.S. dollars. Imports rose 1 percent to 1.12 trillion U.S. dollars.

Total trade surplus in the first seven months surged 20.9 percent from the same period last year, reaching 150.6 billion U.S. dollars, the GAC said.