China trade surplus with USA hits record $29bn high

Workers sort dried seafood for export at a factory in Lianyungang in China's eastern Jiangsu province on July 5

Washington added 25 per cent tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods on July 6 in response to complaints Beijing steals or pressures companies to hand over technology.

China's trade surplus with the United States has grown to a record high of almost $29 billion in June.

Analysts expect to see the impact of the tariffs in July's figures.

"We expect the trade numbers for July to disappoint since that's when the first round of U.S. tariffs took effect", China analyst at Nordea Bank in Singapore Amy Zhuang told the BBC.

China's exports to the United States rose 13.6 percent in the first half of 2018 from a year earlier, while its imports from the USA rose 11.8 percent in the same period.

US President Donald Trump had already threatened to impose additional tariffs if China - the world's largest exporter - retaliates.

The expanding trade surplus was largely because of smaller imports.

Pressed on the possible negative impact of multiple trade disputes on the US economy, Mnuchin said the Trump administration was keeping a watchful eye.

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For January-June, it rose to $133.76 billion, compared with about $117.51 billion in the same period a year ago.

"Unfortunately the markets haven't come to grips with the current levels of trade policies and tariffs", said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR in NY.

Mnuchin also said that the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement was a big priority for the administration now that Mexico's recent presidential election had passed.

"Targeting such a large amount of basic consumers will inevitably have an effect on U.S. inflation". Trump has said he may ultimately target more than $500 billion worth of Chinese goods - roughly the total amount of US imports from China past year. They said as a effect figures for July and August were likely to show a decline in exports to the US.

China's commerce ministry confirmed last month that Chinese exporters were front-loading shipments to the United States to get ahead of expected tariffs - a situation that could exacerbate any slowdown in shipments toward the year-end.

China imported American goods worth $13.6 billion in June while exporting $42.6 billion to the United States.

"So we would be back to square one", Mr Kuo said, with China exporting more to the USA than it buys from the country.

Trump's latest tariffs threat hammered global markets, while there are worries that his decision to pick fights with other key allies including Canada and the European Union could fuel an all-out global trade war.

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