Sun, Sep 09, 2018 - Page 16 News List

China’s trade surplus with US hit record in August

TARIFF-RESISTANT?US duties on US$34 billion in Chinese goods in July and US$16 billion last month have not dented the appetite for Chinese-made goods in the US

AFP, BEIJING

China’s trade surplus with the US ballooned to a new record US$31 billion in August despite a raft of US tariffs, official data showed yesterday, adding fuel to the flames of a searing trade war.

The figures were released hours after US President Donald Trump threatened to slap tariffs on the totality of Chinese goods imported into the US, worth half a trillion dollars.

Trump in July imposed customs duties of up to 25 percent on US$34 billion of Chinese goods, and last month on another US$16 billion, triggering swift tit-for-tat responses from Beijing.

However, the tariffs do not appear to have dented the appetite for Chinese-made products in the US.

Chinese exports to the US last month rose to US$44.4 billion, a 13.2 percent increase from the same period last year, data from the US Department of Commerce showed, while imports from the US reached US$13.3 billion, a 2 percent increase from last year.

China’s trade surplus with the US reached US$31 billion, an 18.7 percent increase from the same month last year and up from its previous record of US$28.9 billion in June, customs data showed.

While China’s trade surplus with the US grew again, it remained stable with the rest of the world at US$27.9 billion last month.

Global exports increased by 9.8 percent, while its imports rose by 20 percent compared with the same month last year, customs data showed.

The figures were well below July’s performance, when exports had jumped 12.2 percent and imports grew 27 percent.

Trump has said that trade wars are “easy to win,” and that he would hit virtually all Chinese imports if Beijing did not back down and take steps to reduce its US$335 billion surplus with the US.

Tariffs on another US$200 billion in Chinese goods were “in the hopper” and “could take place very soon,” he said on Friday.

Beijing has said that it would hit back with duties on US$60 billion in US products — a much smaller figure that shows China would not be able to match US tariffs dollar-for-dollar.

However, businesses have said that there were other ways that China could strike back, through regulations and other administrative means, or even through sales of its large holdings of US Treasury debt.

Trump told reporters traveling with him to Fargo, North Dakota, that “behind that, there’s another US$267 billion ready to go on short notice if I want.”

That would cover virtually all the goods imported from the world’s second-largest economy.

“That totally changes the equation,” Trump said.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow just hours before had said that talks with Beijing were continuing to try to defuse the conflict, and that he was hopeful that a solution could be found.

The last effort at a negotiated solution was late last month with meetings between low-level officials, but nothing came of it.

In Beijing, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce on Thursday said it was ready to retaliate.

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