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14 July 2018, 12:04 | Austin Hogan
China trade surplus with US widens unexpectedly
China's monthly trade surplus with the United States hits a record high in June, amid a bitter trade dispute between the world's two largest economies.
China's surplus with the U.S. hit a record high last month, data showed today.
In the first six months of the year, China's exports to the USA rose 13.6% from a year earlier, while imports from the United States increased by 11.8%.
"We expect the trade numbers for July to disappoint since that's when the first round of USA tariffs took effect", said Amy Zhuang, China analyst at Nordea Bank in Singapore. So far China has responded in kind, adding tariffs to $34bn of goods from the U.S. and threatening "firm and forceful measures" to match the threat of tariffs on $200bn worth of USA exports.
China's June trade grew by double digits amid mounting tensions with Washington but Beijing warned its exporters to face "rising instabilities and uncertainties".
But comments from China's commerce ministry indicated that June's figures are a blip, a result of Chinese companies pushing to get products out the door before the tariffs went into effect, according to Reuters.
But, he said, China has another option - Beijing could reduce the impact of United States tariffs on exporters by devaluing the yuan to make its goods cheaper for American consumers.
The data comes as President Trump has ratcheted up a trade war with China and other close American trade partners, including Canada, Mexico and the European Union. The politically volatile trade surplus with the United States widened by 14.2 per cent to $29 billion.
"Still, we do not expect a plunge because those tariffs only targeted $34bn worth of goods which is fairly small compared to China's total trade", she said. Both official and private business surveys reported softer export orders last month.
In a sign Beijing is seeking alternative supplies of the commodities as it hit US imports with extra tariffs, China had dropped import tariffs on a range of animal feed ingredients from several Asian countries.
Analysts also pointed out that Chinese export growth slowed to 11.3% year on year in June, from 12.2% in May, illustrating that exporters, faced with the threat of further trade barriers, were becoming more circumspect in sending goods overseas.
Analysts expect to see the impact of the tariffs in July's figures.
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