China's October exports surprisingly strong

China's exports hold up despite US tariffs

For trade with all countries, China's surplus was $34.01 billion for October, compared with forecasts of $35 billion and September's surplus of $31.69 billion.

Growth in imports for October quickened to 21.4 percent from 14.3 percent in September, again beating analysts' forecast for a slight cooling to 14 percent.

They leaped nearly 16% in October compared with the same month a year earlier. September imports grew 14.3 percent on-year. "It's an excuse to not do anything (to solve the problem, and) rather to frame this as part of the big trade war". However, economists expect the trade war's impact to increase early next year, especially if the USA goes ahead with the planned increase in tariffs from the beginning of 2019.

Iris Pang, Economist at ING, notes that China's exports grew 15.6% year-on-year, higher than the consensus of 11.7% and they believe this growth is due to exporters' concern that the 10% tariffs on $200 billion of exported goods to the United States will rise to 25% on 1 January 2019, which has led them to front-load exports.

"Global demand may be holding up better than feared, while a weaker Chinese yuan is also helping the country's exporters". Between April and the end of October, the yuan lost 11.4 per cent against the USA dollar.

Many economists say the phenomenon is mostly due to exporters benefiting from increased orders before the tariffs hit, but the figures are likely to show stress in the months ahead.

"There is still a lot of uncertainty about the trade friction between China and the U.S.", said Liu.

"We believe that the cause of such strong growth is exporters' concern that the 10% tariffs on $200 billion of exported goods to the United States will rise to 25% on 1st Jan 2019, so they front-loaded export activities". "Import growth actually reflects some front-loading in China as well - buying before Chinese tariffs come into effect", Chi Lo, greater China economist at BNP Paribas, told Reuters.

Top Chinese officials are now in Washington, with hopes that those talks could pave the way for a breakthrough on trade later this month when Trump meets Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Argentina.

For the first 10 months of the year, China's surplus with the United States, its largest export market, totaled $258.15 billion, widening sharply from $222.98 billion in the same period last year.

Robust imports showed China's economy remained stable despite posting 6.5 percent GDP growth in the third quarter - its slowest pace for nine years.

In response, the government launched a series of measures to support the economy, including cutting individual taxes, speeding up infrastructure spending and extending additional financing options to help struggling smaller companies.

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