China's trade growth weathers United States tariff headwinds

Cars to be exported are seen at a port in Lianyungang Jiangsu province China

The Trump administration has accused China of unfair trade practices, and President Donald Trump has long vowed to bring down the United States' trade deficit in goods with Beijing.

Thanks to the surge, the trade surplus narrowed by 42.6 percent to 176.96 billion yuan last month. The U.S. Trade Representative's Office is reviewing tariffs on a further US$200 billion in Chinese imports and those duties could start once a comment period ends on September 6.

China, however, would run out of USA imports to levy, as it bought only $130 billion worth of American goods previous year.

In May, Chinese importers trying to beat Beijing's looming counter-tariffs led to a surge in U.S. exports of crude oil and soybeans, temporarily driving down the trade deficit and helping boost GDP growth in the April-June period to 4.1 per cent.

In June, China's crude oil imports had dropped for a second consecutive month and hit their lowest level since December 2017 on the back of trimmed purchases by the independent refiners-the so-called "teapots".

The government has responded by releasing more liquidity into the banking system, encouraging lending and promising a more "active" fiscal policy. That was off slightly from June's 13.6% rate but still stronger than China's global export growth.

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The trade balance between the two countries, which is at the center of the tariffs tussle, continued to be in favor of China. Chinese imports of goods and services into the United States a year ago amounted to almost $524 billion.

For January-July, the surplus with the US rose to $161.63 billion, compared with about $142.75 billion in the same period previous year.

The Trump administration ramped up the pressure for trade concessions from Beijing last week by proposing a higher 25 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. It would likely have to impose penalties on USA companies doing business in China to make up the difference.

The announcement came hours after US trade officials announced that the first round of President Donald Trump's punitive tariffs on China will hit $50 billion in goods starting august 23, with the addition of 279 products totaling $16 billion to the target list.

Nearly 300 Chinese goods face USA import taxes of 25 per cent from August 23, including tractors, motorcycles and semiconductors.

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