China's total exports are slightly up again last month despite the trade dispute with the United States, but the upcoming sanctions announced by Washington should end up penalizing Beijing.
According to figures released Thursday by the Customs Administration, China's total sales abroad increased by 3.3 percent year-on-year after declining 1.3 percent in June. Imports registered a further decline of 5.6%, following a fall of 7.3% the previous month.
These figures are better than expected by analysts, who generally favored a further decline in exports (-1% according to the consensus of the Bloomberg agency) and a larger decline in imports (-8.8%).
In the longer term, however, the prospects are not good for China's foreign trade, with US President Donald Trump announcing an additional 10% tax on September 1 for almost all of Beijing's exports. not yet hit by additional customs duties.
The Chinese government reacted on Monday by allowing its currency to slip away, a tactic that could help its exporters somewhat, but which has earned it the status of being officially labeled "currency manipulator" by the US Treasury.
"In the long term, exports are still likely to be under pressure despite the relief provided by the weakness of the yuan, because of new US tariffs and the widespread weakness of foreign demand," said Julian Evans-Pritchard, cabinet Capital Economics.
- The EU offsets -
In August, Chinese exports could benefit from US purchases to advance the imposition of new tariffs, as was noted in the first salvoes of the trade war last year, said the expert.
But this effect could be this time less, the storage capacity of US ports is not infinite, he notes.
In total, the Chinese trade surplus remained stable in July at 45.05 billion dollars, against 44.23 billion the previous month.
With the United States alone, the surplus, followed closely by Donald Trump, fell slightly to 27.97 billion dollars against 29.9 billion in June.
Chinese exports to Uncle Sam declined in July by 6.46% year-on-year, while imports fell by 19.09%, slightly less than in June (-7.75% for exports and -31.44% for imports).
These figures reveal the impact of the latest surcharges announced by the United States in May, when the Trump administration raised from 10% to 25% its tariffs on some 200 billion dollars of Chinese products imported. Fifty billion dollars of goods were already overtaxed at this level.
Beijing imposes on its side additional customs duties on $ 110 billion of US products, almost all of its imports from the United States.
The Chinese government has already announced retaliatory - not necessarily customs - measures against US trade after the entry into force of Washington's next sanctions.
Exports to Southeast Asia and the European Union increased by 15.6% and 6.5% respectively in July.
"Even if the additional tariffs on Chinese products imposed by the United States are expected to affect China's trade prospects by the end of 2019, the growth of exports to the rest of the world could serve as damper, "observes economist Betty Wang, ANZ Research firm.
© 2019 AFP