Fri, Nov 09, 2018 - Page 10 News List

China’s US exports grow despite tariffs

FRONT-LOADING:While exports to the US surged 13.2% year-on-year last month, imports from the US grew even faster as exports overall grew 15.6% and imports 21.4%


Chinese paramilitary police officers march near a billboard for the China International Import Expo in Shanghai on Sunday. Visitors to the vast trade fair, meant to rebrand China as a welcoming import market, could sip Moroccan wine, ogle Italian yachts and watch a Japanese industrial robot play table tennis.

Photo: AP

China’s exports to the US and the rest of the world grew more than expected last month, official data showed yesterday, as its traders apparently rushed shipments across the Pacific Ocean ahead of higher tariffs.

Relations between the world’s top two economies have soured sharply this year as US President Donald Trump slapped about half of Chinese imports with higher tariffs.

Top Chinese officials are in Washington this week, with hopes that those talks could pave the way for a breakthrough on trade later this month, when Trump is to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) at the G20 summit in Argentina.

Still, last month exporters continued to hurry goods across the Pacific, with China’s exports to the US surging 13.2 percent from the same period last year, data released by the Chinese General Administration of Customs showed.

“October’s surprisingly strong export performance seems to have been partly due to a continuous front-loading effect and is unlikely to be a long-term trend,” Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd China economist Betty Wang (王蕊) said.

China’s trade surplus with the US fell to US$31.8 billion, from a record US$34.1 billion in September.

Last month marked the first full month of US tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese goods — but the tax rate is set to jump from 10 percent to 25 percent by January next year.

Trump has repeatedly boasted that the US could not lose a trade war with China, but Beijing’s retaliatory tariffs on US goods have been more damaging so far.

China’s imports from the US fell 1.8 percent last year, while its surplus with the US expanded to US$258 billion for the first 10 months of the year.

Analysts estimate that the upcoming meeting of the two heads of state will fail to resolve the friction.

“We do not expect the sideline meeting of Xi and Trump during the G20 would be positive,” said Iris Pang (彭藹嬈), economist for Greater China at ING Wholesale Banking in Hong Kong.

“We just hope that the meeting won’t create further damage to the trade relationship,” Pang told Bloomberg News.

China’s overall trade — what it buys and sells with all countries including the US — showed a US$34 billion surplus for the month.

Exports jumped 15.6 percent last month, beating the 11.7 percent forecast by Bloomberg News, while imports rose 21.4 percent, well above the forecast 14.5 percent.

“While shipments to the US held up well, those to other parts of the world grew even faster,” Oxford Economics head of Asia economics Louis Kuijs said. “Global demand may be holding up better than feared, while a weaker Chinese yuan is also helping the country’s exporters.”

Robust imports showed that China’s economy remained stable, despite posting 6.5 percent GDP growth in the third quarter — its slowest pace for nine years.

Beijing could be pulling up from its campaign to tackle mounting debt, which weighed heavily on growth, analysts said.

“Robust imports, especially commodities, could be an indication of a rebound in infrastructure investment and a stabilization of the property market,” Wang said.

Despite the resilient trade data, analysts forecast that the US-China feud would hit growth in coming months.

“Trade tensions will be a lingering concern for the global economy,” Wang said.

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