Economic Watch: China's trade sees solid growth despite U.S. tariffs

BEIJING, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- China's foreign trade registered steady growth in the first eight months of this year despite higher tariffs imposed by the United States, official data showed Saturday.

China's goods trade went up 9.1 percent year on year to 19.43 trillion yuan (about 2.85 trillion U.S. dollars) in the first eight months of this year, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) said.

Exports rose 5.4 percent year on year in the January-August period to 10.34 trillion yuan while imports grew 13.7 percent to 9.09 trillion yuan, resulting in a trade surplus of 1.25 trillion yuan, which narrowed by 31.3 percent, according to the GAC.

In August, exports rose by 7.9 percent, higher than 6 percent in July.

August's data was widely watched as it was the first reading since fresh U.S. tariffs on 16 billion U.S. dollars worth of Chinese imports went into effect.

Beginning August 23, the United States slapped an extra 25 percent tariff on 16 billion U.S. dollars worth of Chinese imports, to which China responded with an equivalent retaliatory measure.

The move came after additional tariffs on 34 billion U.S. dollars worth of Chinese imports went into effect on July 6.

Saturday's data showed that China's exports have not deteriorated so far with strong export volume supporting total value, China Merchants Securities said in a research note.

The country's trade with major trading partners saw an increase during the January-August period. Trade with the European Union, its largest trading partner, climbed 6.2 percent, and trade volume with the United States and ASEAN countries increased by 5.9 percent and 11.8 percent, respectively.

Trade with countries along the Belt and Road totaled 5.31 trillion yuan, up 12 percent year on year, 2.9 percentage points faster than the average growth rate, data showed.

Saturday's data also revealed a more balanced trade picture, with imports in August continuing the rapid expansion seen in previous months.

In August, imports jumped by 18.8 percent in yuan terms, slightly lower than the 20.9-percent rise seen in July.

China's imports of consumer goods such as food and cosmetics have seen rapid growth since 2017, while domestic demand related to manufacturing investment remained robust, indicating that China's imports are less relevant to infrastructure and real estate investment, China Merchants Securities said.

China has been seeking a more balanced trade pattern, with a series of pro-import policies introduced.

Earlier in July, China's State Council released guidelines on expanding imports, promising tariff cuts, clean-ups of unreasonable price mark-ups, and better intellectual property rights protection.

Fast growth in imports has helped bring down China's trade surplus, which stood almost flat in August compared with July in dollar terms, China Merchants Securities said.