China imports from US tumble by almost one fifth

A container ship at a port in Qingdao in eastern China’s Shandong province. Chinese imports of American goods plunged in July as a tariff war with Washington intensified. (AP)
Updated 08 August 2019

China imports from US tumble by almost one fifth

  • Beijing has retaliated for US tariff hikes in a dispute over trade

BEIJING: Chinese imports of American goods plunged in July as a tariff war with Washington intensified. Imports of US goods fell 19 percent from a year earlier to $10.9 billion, customs data showed Thursday, though that was an improvement over June’s 31.4 percent fall. Exports to the US declined 6.5 percent to $38.8 billion.

Beijing has retaliated for US tariff hikes in a dispute over trade and technology by imposing its own punitive duties and suspending purchases of American soybeans and other goods.

The latest data follow President Donald Trump’s threat last week to extend punitive duties to an additional $300 billion of Chinese imports. China’s total exports rose 3.3 percent over a year earlier to $221.5 billion, rebounding from June’s 1.3 percent contraction amid weakening global consumer demand. Imports shrank 5.6 percent to $176.4 billion, an improvement over the previous month’s 7.3 percent decline.

“Shipments in and out of China held up better than expected last month, but a sustained turnaround still looks unlikely in the near-term,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report.

China’s central bank rattled global financial markets this week by allowing its yuan to weaken to an 11-year low against the US dollar. That would make Chinese goods less expensive abroad but the currency’s 5 percent decline this year against the dollar is too small to completely offset US tariffs of 25 percent.

China’s global trade surplus widened by 60 percent over a year ago to $45.1 billion.

The surplus with the US was little changed but stood at $28 billion, a level that might fuel American pressure for Chinese concessions in trade talks.

Washington and Beijing are locked in an increasingly costly tariff war over US complaints China steals or pressures companies to hand over technology. The US and other Chinese trading partners complain Beijing’s plans for government-led development of global competitors in robotics and other fields violates its market-opening commitments.

Trade has weakened since Trump started hiking tariffs on Chinese goods last June. Beijing retaliated with its own penalties and ordered importers to find non-US suppliers.

Trump and President Xi Jinping agreed in June to resume negotiations but talks last week in Shanghai ended with no sign of agreement. Envoys are due to meet again next month.

Economists warn the truce is fragile because the two sides still are separated by the disagreements that caused talks to break down in May.

Trade weakness has added to pressure on Xi’s government to shore up economic growth and avoid politically dangerous job losses.

Beijing agreed last year to narrow its trade surplus with the US by buying more American natural gas and other exports but scrapped that plan after one of Trump’s tariff hikes. The Chinese government said in June that any purchases must be at a reasonable level, suggested Beijing was becoming more cautious about making big commitments before it sees what Washington offers in exchange.


IMF warns of Asia’s darkening growth outlook as trade war bites

Updated 18 October 2019

IMF warns of Asia’s darkening growth outlook as trade war bites

  • The IMF cut its economic growth forecast for the Asia-Pacific region to 5.0 percent for this year and 5.1 percent for 2020
  • It also slashed China’s growth forecast to 6.1 percent for this year and 5.8 percent for 2020
WASHINGTON: Asian nations face heightening risks to their economic outlooks as the US-China trade war and slumping Chinese demand hurt the world’s fastest-growing region, the International Monetary Fund said on Friday.
In its World Economic Outlook report on Tuesday, the IMF cut its economic growth forecast for the Asia-Pacific region to 5.0 percent for this year and 5.1 percent for 2020 — the slowest pace of expansion since the global financial crisis more than a decade ago.
“Headwinds from global policy uncertainty and growth deceleration in major trading partners are taking a toll on manufacturing, investment, trade, and growth,” Changyong Rhee, director of the IMF’s Asia and Pacific department, said during a news conference at the IMF and World Bank fall meetings.
“Risks are skewed to the downside,” he said, calling on policymakers in the region to focus on near-term fiscal and monetary policy steps to spur growth.
“The intensification in trade tensions between the US and China could further weigh on confidence and financial markets, thereby weakening trade, investment and growth,” he said.
A faster-than-expected slowdown in China’s economic growth could also generate negative spillovers in the region, as many Asian countries have supply chains closely tied to China, he added.
The IMF slashed China’s growth forecast to 6.1 percent for this year and 5.8 percent for 2020, pointing to the impact from the trade conflict and tighter regulation to address excess debt.