China's trade surplus with USA swells in June

Workers sort dried seafood for export at a factory in Lianyungang in China's eastern Jiangsu province on July 5

Workers sort dried seafood for export at a factory in Lianyungang in China's eastern Jiangsu province on July 5

June exports to the United States grew faster than China's total with the world, expanding by 13.6 per cent over a year ago in possible sign exporters were rushing to fill orders.

In the first six months of the year, China's exports to the U.S. rose 13.6% from a year earlier, while imports from the United States increased by 11.8%.

This prompted Beijing to accuse Washington of launching the "largest trade war" in economic history, while immediately matching the USA tariffs dollar for dollar.

The figures come a week after the trade war between the two began, with the United States imposing tariffs on $34bn of Chinese goods, and China retaliating. "They are just a trade bully", he told reporters in Geneva. China's trade surplus with the U.S. over the same period was $133.76 billion, up from $117.51 billion a year ago.

This week, Washington threatened to impose 10% tariffs on another $200bn of Chinese imports.

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China's June exports rose 11.3 percent from a year earlier, China General Administration of Customs reported, beating forecasts for a 10 percent increase according to the latest Reuters poll of 39 analysts, and down from a 12.6 percent gain in May. "Trade wars are not easy to win", he said.

Growth in imports for June showed a moderate slowdown from May, official data showed on Friday.

China's commerce ministry confirmed last month that Chinese exporters were front-loading shipments to the United States to get ahead of expected tariffs - a situation that could exacerbate any slowdown in shipments toward the year-end. China also said both its imports and exports with the United States rose in the first half of 2018.

However, a lower yuan would make it more expensive for China to import U.S. goods.

"There will be challenges facing foreign trade with rising instabilities and uncertainties in the global environment, " said a Chinese customs agency report.

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Investors fear a prolonged trade battle with the United States could harm business confidence and investment, disrupting global supply chains and harming growth in China and the rest of the world.

In yuan terms, China's exports grew 3.1% in June and imports rose 6.0%.

"We are monitoring very carefully the impact of tariffs and we will continue to do so", he said.

Mnuchin also said that the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement was a big priority for the administration now that Mexico's recent presidential election had passed.

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