China’s surplus with the US hits new record in November
BEIJING: China’s trade surplus with the United States ballooned to a record US$35.6 billion in November, official data showed yesterday, as exports across the Pacific remained strong despite a raft of US tariffs while imports shrank.
Relations between the world’s top two economies continue to be tense despite a trade war truce struck between US President Donald Trump and his counterpart President Xi Jinping.
Trump and figures in his administration have said China would immediately start buying US goods in bulk, but Beijing has refrained from confirming those claims. The increasingly lopsided trade between the two nations threatens to further derail prospects for a trade deal during a 90-day negotiation period.
The ballooning trade deficit with China is a particularly sore point for Trump, who campaigned on turning around the situation.
China’s exports to the US rose 9.8 per cent for November on-year, while imports for the month fell 25 per cent on-year, the data from China’s customs administration showed.
China’s overall trade – what it buys and sells with all countries, including the US – logged a US$44.7 billion surplus in November, up from US$35 billion the previous month, the data showed.
American farmers have been hit particularly hard by the trade tensions. Trump tweeted this week that China would begin buying products from US farmers “immediately”.
Usually Chinese buyers have snapped up American soybeans in the final months of the year as the harvest hits the market and beans from competitor Brazil dry up.
But this year, Chinese buyers have passed on US soybeans which face a 25 per cent border tax upon import, part of the $50 billion in US goods Beijing hit with higher duties this summer in retaliation for US tariffs.
China’s soybean imports fell 38 per cent on-year, to 5.4 million tonnes for the month, the data showed.
The trade surplus with the US expanded to $293.5 billion for January-November, up from $251.3 billion during the same period last year.
But growth of exports and imports slowed from October, with exports rising 5.4 per cent for November on-year, short of the 9.4 per cent forecast by Bloomberg News, and imports rising 3.0 per cent on-year, also below the forecast.
The sagging export and import growth is another bad sign for China’s economy, which grew at its slowest pace for nine years in the third quarter, expanding 6.5 per cent on-year for JulySeptember.
While exports to the US have held up so far this autumn, the row has sapped confidence.
The Shanghai composite stock index has fallen by about onequarter from its January high, while the yuan has slipped about nine per cent against the dollar. — AFP
A cargo ship is seen at a port in Qingdao in China’s eastern Shandong province. — AFP photo