Tariff War Fails To Dent China Trade

By Glenn Dyer | More Articles by Glenn Dyer

A solid set of trade figures from China for July with some small signs that the impact of the trade war with the US is having an impact – but not very much.

Key commodity imports in fact held up, or rose – especially coal and iron ore. Imports of copper and oil also rose in July from the previous month but soy imports dipped.

That saw China’s trade surplus fall sharply last month.

Exports rose 12.2% from a year earlier following June’s 11.3% increase, but imports were up 27.3% in July from a year earlier, accelerating from a 14.1% increase the in June and a 25% jump in May

As a result China reported a trade surplus of $US28.05 billion in July, compared with a surplus of $US41.61 billion a month earlier, the country’s Customs Administration reported yesterday.

This was much less than market forecasts around $US39 to $US40 billion (meaning the market saw little change from June).

China’s trade surplus with the US narrowed to $28.09 billion in July from a record monthly high of $28.90 billion in June.

On Tuesday, the Trump administration said it would impose new tariffs on $US16 billion in Chinese imports, bringing the total value of products covered by the duties to $US50 billion to start by the end of the August

China’s cabinet last week released a list of $US60 billion of US imports to hit with tariffs.

The planned levies, on imports ranging from farm products and machinery to chemicals and LNG, range from 5% to 25%.

The planned Chinese penalties come on top of the tariffs on $US50 billion in American goods on which Beijing already has imposed or said it would impose.

Imports of iron ore rose to 89.96 million tonnes in July, versus 83.24 million tonnes in June and 86.25 million tonnes in July of last year.

Coal imports topped 29 million tonnes last month more than 50% above the 19.46 million tonnes a year ago (when coal imports from Queensland were held back by the damage caused by Cyclone Debbie) and up 14% from the 25.47 million tonnes in June.

Copper imports rose to 452,000 tonnes in July just above the 440,000 tonnes in June and well up on the 390,000 tonnes imported in July 2017.

Crude oil imports totalled 36.02 million tonnes in July against a lowish 34.34 million tonnes in June and a seven month low in July last year of 34.66 million tonnes.

Soybean imports fell to 8.01 million tonnes last month from 8.70 million tonnes in June and down 20% from the 10 million tonnes of July last year.

Glenn Dyer

About Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

View more articles by Glenn Dyer →