China's trade surplus with USA swells in June

20180706-China-US-trade-chart-NEW

China's commerce ministry confirmed last month that Chinese exporters were front-loading exports to the United States to get ahead of expected tariffs - a situation that could exacerbate any slowdown in shipments toward the year end.

The figures come after the two sides exchanged tit for tat tariffs on billions of dollars worth of goods and Donald Trump threatened to up the ante with measures on a colossal $200 billion of Chinese imports.

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.

Beijing said China's surplus with the USA hit an all-time high $28.97 billion last month, while exports to the country hit a record $42.62 billion.

Firing the first shots in a trade war that has rattled financial markets and raised risks to the global economy, Washington last week imposed 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports, drawing rapid retaliatory duties by Beijing on the same amount of USA exports to China. 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 United States exports.

Analysts expect to see the impact of the tariffs in the coming months, warning of a less favorable trade balance for China.

Amy Zhuang has warned that there could be knock-on effects if the U.S. proceeds with its proposal for a new round of tariffs on $200bn of Chinese goods.

The expanding trade surplus was largely because of smaller imports.

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Growth in imports for June showed a moderate slowdown from May, official data showed on Friday.

After a strong start to the year, growth in China's exports has moderated recently, and is expected to face more pressure from the initial round of USA tariffs.

Investors fear a prolonged trade battle with the United States could harm business confidence and investment, disrupting global supply chains and harming growth in China and the rest of the world.

"There will be challenges facing foreign trade with rising instabilities and uncertainties in the global environment, " said a Chinese customs agency report.

In yuan terms, China's exports grew 3.1% in June and imports rose 6.0%.

The spiralling battle with Beijing shows no signs of cooling down, and observers warn the impact will begin to hurt soon as China's economy struggles with slowing growth just as leaders try to battle a worryingly large debt mountain.

Asked if China was breaking WTO rules by imposing retaliatory tariffs on USA goods without first launching a formal legal dispute, Wang said China could not wait years for a ruling on the U.S. move and had acted "in line with the spirit of worldwide law".

The United States has started a trade war and China will defend itself, Chinese vice-minister of commerce Wang Shouwen said on Thursday (July 12), urging the United States to "take the gun" of tariffs away to smooth the way for talks.

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