China's November export, import growth shrinks; surplus with United States record high

Cornelia Mascio
Dicembre 8, 2018

But Trump again sought to paint the talks in a more positive light, highlighting a report from Bloomberg that "Chinese officials have begun preparing to restart imports of U.S. Soybeans & Liquified Natural Gas" that were put on hold as a result of the president's initial tariffs.

Asked to confirm whether Beijing promised to buy American goods immediately, Gao said China will "immediately implement the consensus reached by the two sides on farm products, cars and energy".

On Thursday, the U.S. reported that its global trade deficit in October jumped to a 10-year high, and that the deficit with China surged 7.1 per cent to a record US$43.1 billion.

Asked about Trump's statement that Beijing would cancel tariff hikes on USA -made autos, Gao referred reporters to the Cabinet's tax commission.

Import growth was 3 per cent, the slowest since October 2016, and a fraction of the 14.5 per cent seen in the poll.

Imports grew 3 per cent, widening China's trade surplus to US$44.7 billion from US$34 billion.

Gao's briefing came hours after the trade detente risked being rattled by the arrest in Canada of a top executive from Chinese telecom giant Huawei at the request of the United States.

The president's optimism comes just after a day since he publicly declared himself a "Tariff Man", and stood by his protectionist trade policies even after stocks fell almost 800 points amid confusion over the result of Trump's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Shipments to the whole world in USA dollar terms rose 5.4 per cent in November, the customs administration said Saturday, missing estimates.

On Tuesday, Trump tweeted about the potential for a deal with China, before warning that if a deal wasn't reached in 90 days he would slap more tariffs on China because he was "a Tariff Man".

Other economic indicators also suggest that China's exports are facing stronger headwinds.

Another key export barometer is the biannual Canton Fair. The most recent event - which ran from mid-October to early November - saw transactions falling by 1 per cent, or US$300 million, compared with last autumn.

Xu Jianwei, senior China economist from French bank Natixis, said the bigger fall in imports from 21.4 per cent in October pointed to weakness in domestic demand but higher base number from November a year ago also needed to be taken into account.

The conference usually takes place in mid-December and is where senior policymakers agree directions for the following year's policy, details of which are released in March during the annual National People's Congress.

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