China November exports unexpectedly fall, but imports rebound


FILE PHOTO: Containers are seen at the Yangshan Deep Water Port in Shanghai, China August 6, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s exports in November shrank for the fourth consecutive month, customs data showed on Sunday, confounding market expectations for a rise and underscoring persistent pressures on manufacturers from the Sino-U.S. trade dispute.

The 17-month long trade war has heightened the risks of a global recession and fueled speculation that Beijing will unleash more stimulus measures to prop up slowing growth in the world’s second-largest economy.

Overseas shipments fell 1.1% from a year earlier last month, data showed, compared with a 1.0% expansion tipped by a Reuters poll of analysts and a 0.9% drop in October.

Imports unexpectedly rose 0.3% from a year earlier, compared with a 1.8% decline forecast by economists and a 6.4% decline in October. This marks the first year-on-year growth since April.

Beijing and Washington continue to negotiate for a phase one trade deal aimed at de-escalating a trade dispute that has roiled global markets and stoked worries about a global recession. But they continue to wrangle over key details, including the extent of any rollback in tariffs by the United States and how much of agricultural products China will buy.

A U.S. House bill targeting China’s camps for ethnic Muslim minorities in Xinjiang has also angered Beijing, further clouding prospects of any deal. China warned on Wednesday the bill will impact bilateral cooperation and said Beijing will take “decisive” countermeasures to protect its interests.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that trade talks with China are “moving right along,” striking an upbeat tone even as Chinese officials held fast to their line that existing tariffs must come off as part of an interim deal. Earlier in the week, though, Trump rattled global markets when he said a deal might have to wait until after the 2020 election.

In the absence of a breakthrough, Washington has said a new round of tariffs on Chinese goods will take effect on Dec. 15. One Chinese official told Reuters that China will implement its own tariffs as a countermeasure under such circumstances, which may dash any chance of a near-term trade deal.

China’s trade surplus for November stood at $38.73 billion, compared with an expected $46.30 billion surplus in the poll and a $42.81 billion surplus recorded in October.

Editing by Jacqueline Wong

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