China’s trade surplus with US hits record

HONG KONG • China’s trade surplus with the US hit a record in November, even as overall export growth slowed amid waning global demand and uncertainty about a constructive resolution to the trade war.

The trade surplus with the US was almost US$35.6 billion (RM148.45 billion), driven by a 9.8% rise in exports, compared to the same period last year and a 25% decline in imports. Shipments to the whole world in dollar terms rose 5.4% in November, the customs administration said on Saturday, missing estimates.

Imports grew 3%, widening China’s trade surplus to US$44.7 billion from US$34 billion. That was the highest this year.

“The weaker than expected trade growth is due to a high base, lower oil prices and the fading of front-loading ahead of tariff hikes,” said Larry Hu, a Hong Kong-based economist at Macquarie Securities Ltd, referring to exporters shipping goods faster to get them into the US ahead of possible tariff hikes.

“Slower exports and property investment will lead to a further slowdown in China’s economy,” Hu said after the data was released. “Export growth will decline significantly to low single-digits next year as front-loading ends.”

That front-loading may still have been happening in November as the US tariff hike threatened for Jan 1, 2019, was still on the table before Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping met during the Group of 20 summit. — Bloomberg