21 March 2019
China's latest export figures will add fuel to the Trump administration's trade row with Beijing. Photo: Reuters
China's latest export figures will add fuel to the Trump administration's trade row with Beijing. Photo: Reuters

China trade surplus with US hits new high in Aug

China’s trade surplus with the United States widened to a record in August even as the country’s overall export growth slowed slightly, Reuters reports, citing data released over the weekend.

Trade surplus with the United States hit US$31.05 billion in August, rising from US$28.09 billion in July and surpassing the previous monthly record set in June, customs data showed on Saturday.

That came as exports accelerated, growing 13.2 percent from a year earlier from a 11.2 percent pace in July, even though US tariffs targeting US$50 billion of Chinese goods were in effect. 

Over the first eight months of the year, China’s surplus with its largest export market has risen nearly 15 percent.

The latest trade figures could prompt US President Donald Trump to further turn up the heat on Beijing in the trade dispute between the two sides, Reuters noted.

China’s imports from the US grew only 2.7 percent in August, a slowdown from 11.1 percent in July.

Washington has long criticized China’s huge trade surplus with the US and has demanded Beijing reduce it.

Trump upped the ante on Friday, warning he was ready to slap tariffs on nearly all Chinese imports to the US, threatening duties on another US$267 billion of goods on top of US$200 billion in imports primed for levies in coming days.

China’s annual overall export growth in August moderated slightly to 9.8 percent, according to the customs data.

“There is still an impact from front-loading of exports, but the main reason (for still-solid export growth) is strong growth in the US economy,” Zhang Yi, an economist at Zhonghai Shengrong Capital Management, told Reuters.

According to Zhang, the impact from US tariffs on China’s exports would likely be limited over the next few months.

Imports, a key gauge of the strength of China’s domestic demand, grew 20 percent.

That resulted in China posting a smaller overall trade surplus of US$27.91 billion for August. Analysts had expected the surplus would rise to US$31.79 billion from US$28.05 billion in July.

The surplus with the US was larger than China’s net surplus for the month, indicating China would be running a deficit if trade with the world’s largest economy was excluded, the report noted.

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