Chinese exports to the US tanked in August as Trump's trade-war tariffs hit demand

REUTERS/Kevin LamarqueDonald Trump and Xi Jinping.
  • China’s exports to America tanked 16% in August as Donald Trump’s tariffs sapped demand for Chinese goods in their biggest foreign market.
  • Chinese imports of US goods dropped by about 22%, suggesting American exporters are also suffering from the trade war.
  • The declines will pile more pressure on Chinese authorities to stimulate the economy, days after they announced banks’ reserve requirements would be cut to their lowest level since 2007.
  • View Markets Insider’s homepage for more stories.

China’s exports to America tanked 16% to $US44.4 billion in August – a sharp acceleration from their 6.5% drop in July, Reuters said – as Donald Trump’s tariffs sapped demand for Chinese goods in their biggest foreign market.

However, Chinese imports of US goods dropped by about 22% to $US10.3 billion, official customs data showed. The steep drop suggests US exporters are also suffering from the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

“The Sino-US trade spat is behind these softer figures,” Neil Wilson, chief market analyst for Markets.com, said in a note on Monday. “Trade data won’t go anywhere but south as the second half of the year plays out and China feels the impact of the latest rounds of tariffs.”

Further escalation of the trade war looks likely, Wilson added. More tit-for-tat tariffs could accelerate China’s declines in the coming months.

The Trump administration slapped a 15% duty on $US112 billion worth of Chinese goods on September 1. If a trade agreement isn’t reached, it plans to hike existing tariffs on $US250 billion of Chinese goods from 25% to 30% at the start of October, and impose duties on another $US160 billion of imports in mid-December.

Meanwhile, China has targeted about $US120 billion of US imports so far. It retaliated with its own tariffs at the start of September, and has a second batch planned for mid-December. Chinese officials are set to attend trade talks in Washington next month in the hope of striking a deal and avoiding those increases.

China’s overall exports slid 0.1% in August, upending analysts’ expectations of 2.2% growth, Bloomberg said. The surprise downturn could ramp up pressure on Chinese authorities to stimulate the economy. On Friday, the central bank said it would cut banks’ reserve requirements – the amount of cash they have to keep on hand – to the lowest level since 2007 in a bid to boost demand.

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