Asia-Pacific

China's trade with the United States shrinks

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Trade between China and the US has shrunk as tension over a worsening tariff war that threatens global economic growth.

China's trade with the United States is falling sharply as the two sides prepare for more negotiations with no sign of progress toward ending a worsening tariff war that threatens global economic growth.

Imports of US goods fell 22 per cent in August from a year earlier following Chinese tariff hikes and orders to companies to cancel orders, customs data showed Sunday.

Exports to the United States, China's biggest market, sank 16 per cent under pressure from punitive tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump in a fight over Beijing's trade surplus and technology ambitions.

US President Donald Trump (L) and China's President Xi Jinping leave a business leaders event at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
US President Donald Trump (L) and China's President Xi Jinping leave a business leaders event at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
AFP

Beijing is resisting US pressure to roll back plans for government-led creation of global competitors in robotics and other industries. The United States, Europe, Japan and other trading partners say those plans violate China's market-opening commitments and are based on stealing or pressuring companies to hand over technology.

US and Chinese tariff hikes on billions of dollars of each other's imports have disrupted trade in goods from soybeans to medical equipment and battered traders on both sides.

Chinese exporters also face pressure from weakening global consumer demand at a time when Beijing is telling them to find other markets to replace the US.

China's politically sensitive trade surplus with the US narrowed to $US31.3 billion in August from $US27 billion a year earlier.

China's global exports fell three per cent, while imports were up 1.7 per cent. For the first eight months of 2019, exports were off one per cent from a year earlier and imports were down 5.6 per cent.

China's global trade surplus rose 25 per cent from a year earlier and exports to the European Union rose three per cent from a year earlier.

US and Chinese negotiators are preparing for talks in October, later than initially planned, but neither side has given any sign of offering concessions that might break a deadlock over how to enforce a deal.

Beijing says Trump's punitive tariffs must be lifted once an agreement takes effect. Washington says some must stay to ensure Beijing carries out any promises it makes.

U.S. President Donald Trump.
U.S. President Donald Trump.

The decision to go ahead with talks despite the latest tit-for-tat tariff hikes on Sept. 1 encouraged global financial markets.

In their latest escalation, Washington imposed 15 per cent tariffs on $US112 billion of Chinese imports and plans to hit another $160 billion on Dec. 15. That would extend penalties to almost everything the United States buys from China.

Beijing responded by imposing duties of 10 per cent and five per cent on a range of American imports. More increases are due on December 15 in line with the US penalties.

US tariffs of 25 per cent imposed previously on $US250 billion of Chinese goods are due to rise to 30 per cent on October 1.

China has imposed or announced penalties on an estimated $US120 billion of US imports. Some have been hit with increases more than once, while about $50 billion of US goods is unaffected, possibly to avoid disrupting Chinese industries.

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