China’s trade surplus with the United States swelled to a record in June as its overall exports grew at a solid pace, a result that could further inflame a bitter trade dispute with Washington.
But signs exporters were rushing shipments before tariffs went into effect in the first week of July suggest the spike in the surplus was a one-off, with analysts expecting a less favorable trade balance for China in coming months as duties on exports start to bite.
The data came after the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump raised the stakes in its trade row with China on Tuesday, saying it would slap 10 percent tariffs on an extra $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, including numerous consumer items.
US-China trade surplus
China’s trade surplus with the United States, which is at the center of the tariff tussle, widened to a record monthly high of $28.97 billion, up from $24.58 billion in May, according to Reuters calculations based on official data going back to 2008.
For January-June China’s trade surplus with the United States rose to $133.76 billion, compared with about $117.51 billion in the same period last year. China’s exports to the United States rose 13.6 percent in the first half of 2018 from a year earlier, while its imports from the U.S. rose 11.8 percent in the same period.
Trump, who has demanded Beijing cut the trade surplus, could use the latest result to further ratchet up pressure on China after both sides last week imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on $34 billion of each other’s goods. Washington has warned it may ultimately impose tariffs on more than $500 billion worth of Chinese goods, nearly the total amount of U.S. imports from China last year.
The dispute has jolted global financial markets, raising worries a full-scale trade war could derail the world economy.
Chinese stocks fell into bear market territory and the yuan currency has skidded, though there have been signs in recent days its central bank is moving to slow the currency’s declines.
China’s June exports rose 11.3 percent from a year earlier, China General Administration of Customs reported, beating forecasts for a 10 percent increase according to the latest Reuters poll of 39 analysts, and down from a 12.6 percent gain in May.
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 U.S. tariffs. Both official and private business surveys reported softer export orders last month.
Imports grew 14.1 percent in June, customs said, missing analysts’ forecast of a 20.8 percent growth, and compared with a 26 percent rise in May.