China’s imports soar, trade surplus with US narrows - Taipei Times
Fri, Feb 09, 2018 - Page 10 News List

China’s imports soar, trade surplus with US narrows

AFP, BEIJING

China’s global imports soared and exports remained strong last month, while its trade surplus with the SU narrowed after reaching record levels last year, official data showed yesterday.

Imports last month surged 36.9 percent year-on-year, pointing to robust demand in the world’s No. 2 economy to start the year.

China’s continued economic strength flies in the face of the authorities’ campaign to limit credit growth and reduce winter pollution by cutting industrial production.

The wave of imports — buoyed by rising commodity prices — greatly surpassed analysts’ estimates of 10.6 percent growth, according to Bloomberg News.

Analysts attributed part of the rise to the Lunar New Year holiday this month, as opposed to January last year.

Even so, the “outturn exceeded expectations,” wrote Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics.

China’s exports remained strong as well, posting 11.1 percent growth last month, beating analysts’ expectations of 10.7 percent.

The humming global economy continues to eat up China’s products, giving its leaders more time to achieve their goal of transitioning the economy from one driven by exports and investment to a more stable model propelled by domestic consumption.

China’s trade surplus with the US dropped from $25.6 billion in December to $21.9 billion last month. The figure is roughly equal to the trade surplus China posted with the US in the same period last year.

The falling surplus is good news for Beijing, which has been under attack by US President Donald Trump for months.

Still analysts worry the large deficit would compound sensitive trade relations between the two countries.

“The uncertainty surrounding Sino-US trade ties remains a key potential downside risk in the near term,” said Betty Wang (王蕊), senior China economist at Australia and New Zealand Bank.

Earlier this week, the US Department of Commerce reported the US trade deficit surged to US$375.2 billion during Trump’s first year in office, its highest level in nearly a decade.

China’s calculations for last year, released last month, differ, showing a trade difference of US$275.8 billion — still a record high.

The Trump administration has aimed to reduce the deficit by levying aggressive tariffs on a variety of Chinese goods.

Last year, China held off from taking tit-for-tat measures, but Beijing has indicated it may not practice the same restraint in coming months.

This week China launched an anti-dumping investigation into sorghum imports from the US, with the US shipping almost US$1 billion to China last year.

“We cannot exclude the possibility that China may retaliate by focusing on the US’ agricultural exports, including soy exports,” Wang wrote.

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