China's September trade surplus with US widens to record $34.13 billion

Trump Chinese lived too well for too long

Exports to the United States rose to $46.7 billion, down from August's 13.4 percent growth, customs data showed Friday.

Imports of American goods increased 9 percent to $12.6bn, down from 11.1 percent.

Trump imposed tariffs on almost $200-billion of Chinese imports last month and then threatened more levies if China retaliated.

"Exports continued to defy U.S. tariffs last month but imports struggled in the face of cooling domestic demand", said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report.

Lowered manufacturing output reported at the end of September in China indicates that the tariffs may be starting to bite Beijing.

September marked the second straight record Chinese monthly trade surplus with the United States after August's $31 billion.

China's export data has been surprisingly resilient to tariffs, possibly as companies ramped up shipments before stiffer USA duties go into effect, but factory surveys have shown export orders have been shrinking for several months.

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Asked about a Trump-Xi meeting at the G20 summit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular news briefing in Beijing on Friday that, "China and the United States maintain communication at all levels of dialogue and exchanges".

The U.S. economy is strengthening, with unemployment low and growth increasing, while the Chinese economy is slowing, sapping Chinese consumers' ability to buy imported goods.

China's exports to the US continued to rise at a double- digit clip in September compared with a year earlier, while imports fell for the first time since February. Imports grew 14.3 percent to $195 billion, down from the previous month's 20.9 percent rate.

But it was still too early to see the impact of the tariffs, said Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics, a consultancy.

For trade with all countries, China logged a surplus of $31.69 billion for September, compared with forecasts in a Reuters poll for $19.4 billion and August's surplus of $27.89 billion.

Communist officials have ordered companies to stop buying American soybeans - the biggest US export to China - and find alternative suppliers and export markets for other goods. "If China wants the surplus to come down, they have to embark on structural reforms". But global trade would continue to face challenges as the U.S.

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