China’s trade surplus with the United States swelled to a record in June as its overall exports grew at a solid pace, a result that could further inflame a bitter trade dispute with Washington.
But signs exporters were rushing shipments before tariffs went into effect in the first week of July suggest the spike in the surplus was a one-off, with analysts expecting a less favorable trade balance for China in coming months as duties on exports start to bite.
The data came after the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump raised the stakes in its trade row with China, saying it would slap 10% tariffs on an extra US$ 200 billion worth of Chinese imports, including numerous consumer items.
China’s trade surplus with the United States, which is at the center of the tariff tussle, widened to a record monthly high of US$28.97 billion, up from US$24.58 billion in May, based on official data.
For January-June China’s trade surplus with the United States rose to US$ 133.76 billion, compared with about US$ 117.51 billion in the same period last year. China’s exports to the United States rose 13.6% in the first half of 2018 from a year earlier, while its imports from the U.S. rose 11.8% in the same period.
Trump, who has demanded Beijing cut the trade surplus, could use the latest result to further ratchet up pressure on China. Washington has warned it may ultimately impose tariffs on more than US$ 500 billion worth of Chinese goods, nearly the total amount of U.S. imports from China last year.
After a strong start to the year, growth in China’s exports has moderated recently, and is expected to face more pressure from the initial round of U.S. tariffs. Both official and private business surveys reported softer export orders last month.
Last year, the United States' total trade in goods with China topped US$ 635 billion, according to the US Census Bureau. In that year, the US says its goods trade deficit with China was US$ 375.2 billion.