China's exports fall in August as US trade war rumbles

China exports drop amid trade war with U.S.

The big picture: Imports of American products to China dropped to $10.3 billion in August, down 22% from the same month previous year.

China let its currency slide past the key seven per U.S. dollar level last month for the first time since the global financial crisis, and Washington la belled it a currency manipulator.

The export weakness reported Sunday was a reverse from July's 12.2% growth. Imports were down 5.6 per cent in August, slightly less than an expected 6.0 per cent fall and unchanged from July's 5.6 per cent decline.

Trade with the U.S. with which China has been in a trade war since March 2018, declined by 9.2 per cent.

The European Union remained as China's largest trading partner during the period, with bilateral trade volume up 9.7 percent from one year earlier to 3.15 trillion yuan, followed by the ASEAN, up 11.7 percent to 2.74 trillion yuan, and the United States, down 9 percent to 2.42 trillion yuan.

Sluggish domestic demand was likely the main factor in the decline, along with softening global commodity prices.

Washington imposed new tariffs on Sept 1 as it stepped up its high-pressure campaign to coerce Beijing into a new trade deal.

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The weak growth represents a slowdown of 12.6 percentage points from that experienced by Chinese trade in the same month past year.

China reported a trade surplus of US$34.84 billion (S$48 billion) last month, compared with a US$45.06 billion surplus in July. Analysts had forecast a surplus of US$43-billion for August. Beijing hit back with retaliatory levies, and let its currency fall sharply to offset some of the tariff pressure.

China has also lodged a complaint with the World Trade Organization, alleging the new tariffs violate a deal agreed upon by Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping during June's G-20 summit in Osaka.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Friday the United States wants "near-term" results from U.S.

The Chinese government has agreed to narrow its trade surplus with the US but is reluctant to give up development strategies it sees as a path to prosperity and global influence.

China's trade surplus with the United States stood at US$26.95-billion in August, narrowing from July's US$27.97-billion. Trump said last month that he would end preferential trade treatment for India, which would result in USA tariffs on up to $5.6 billion of imports from India.

"The global economy is approaching the turning point of a recession, and external demand will for sure become worse and worse", said Steven Zhang (章俊), chief economist and head of research at Morgan Stanley Huaxin Securities Co Ltd (摩根士丹利華鑫證券).

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