China Trade Surplus Widens in August

China's trade surplus widened to USD 34.83 billion in August 2019 from USD 26.30 billion in the same month a year earlier and compared to market expectations of a USD 43.0 billion surplus.
General Administration of Customs | Rida Husna | 9/8/2019 2:44:52 PM
Exports dropped 1 percent year-on-year to USD 214.80 billion in August, missing market consensus of a 2 percent growth and following a 3.3 percent increase in July. The decline came in amid persistently weak global demand and intensifying trade dispute with the US. Washington announced last month 15 percent tariffs on a wide range of Chinese goods from September 1st, while Beijing hit back with retaliatory levies and let its yuan currency fall sharply to offset some of the pressure. More US tariffs measures are set to take effect in October and December. Sales of unwrought aluminium and products slumped 9.9 percent from a year earlier to 466,000 tonnes in August, the lowest since February, despite a weaker yuan as unexpected production outages at two key smelters meant there was less metal available for overseas shipments. Also, exports of coal plunged 29.8 percent to 0.34 million tonnes and those of coke & semi-coke tumbled 44 percent to 0.44 million tonnes. Steel products exports declined 14.8 percent to 5.01 million tonnes and those of refined products were down 23.4 percent to 4.08 million tonnes. Rice sales dropped 3.9 percent to 248,000 tonnes.

Among major trade partners, exports fell to the US (-16 percent) and Australia (-17 percent); but rose to the EU (3.2 percent), ASEAN (11.2 percent), Taiwan (24.6 percent), Japan (1.4 percent) and South Korea (1.9 percent). 

Imports slumped 5.6 percent to USD 179.97 billion, compared to market consensus of 6 percent fall and July's 5.3 percent drop. That was the fourth straight month of yearly decrease in imports, due to lower purchases of unwrought copper (-3.8 percent to 404,000 tonnes); steel products (-8.5 percent to 0.97 million tonnes); rubber (-11.7 percent to 538,000 tonnes); refined products (-22.7 percent to 2.09 million tonnes); and fuel oil (-28.3 percent to 0.98 million tonnes). In contrast, imports of crude oil jumped 9.9 percent to 42.17 million tonnes, and purchases of copper concentrate, or partially processed copper ore, advanced 9.2 percent to 1.815 million tonnes. Arrivals of iron ore rose 6.1 percent to 94.85 million in August, the highest in 19 months, boosted by rebounding supplies from big miners and mills replenishing inventory as demand stabilised. In addition, imports of soybeans grew 3.6 percent to 9.48 million tonnes, the highest level in nearly one-and-half-years. Purchases also increased for: natural gas (7.3 percent to 8.34 million tonnes); coal (14.9 percent to 32.95 million tonnes); rare earths (0.9 percent to 4,352 tonnes); and edible vegetable oil (51.7 percent to 907,000 tonnes).

Imports declined from the US (-22.4 percent), the EU (-5.2 percent), Japan (-8.8 percent), South Korea (-17.6 percent) and Taiwan (-1.4 percent). On the other hand, imports increased from ASEAN (7.6 percent) and Australia (32.2 percent).

China's trade surplus with the US narrowed to USD 26.95 billion in August from USD 27.97 billion in July.

In January-August, the trade surplus widened to USD 259.27 billion from USD 189.05 billion in the corresponding period the prior year.

In yuan-denominated terms, China's trade surplus came in at CNY 2.40 billion in August, as exports grew 2.6 percent and imports dropped 2.6 percent. 

China Trade Surplus Widens in August