US Treasury secretary remains concerned about weak China currency

13 October, 2018, 05:28 | Author: Mary Valdez
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China's trade surplus with the United States jumped to a monthly record high of US$34.1 billion last month on the back of an escalating trade war that shows little sign of cooling, according to data released by China's customs administration on Friday.

Chinese exports to the American market rose by 13 percent over a year to $46.7bn, down from August's 13.4 percent growth, customs data showed on Friday.

After imposing tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods over the summer, the Trump administration last month added a 10 percent tariffs to another $200 billion worth of Chinese products, encompassing everything from household items like furniture and toys to industrial equipment.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast shipments from the world's largest exporter would rise 8.9 percent in September from a year earlier, slowing from 9.8 percent in August.

An opportunity for talks between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping could come during the Group of 20 leaders' summit in Buenos Aires in late November, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin is probably right to argue that China's September exports to the U.S. rose sharply in anticipation of tariffs.

Mnuchin's comments echo President Donald Trump's stance on the market, who called it "a correction that we've been waiting for for a long time".

Notably, the September surplus with the United States was bigger than China's overall trade surplus of $31.69 billion for the month.

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Drilling down, we see that China's exports to its largest non-Japan Asia trading partners (South Korea and Taiwan) are sluggish. "We want to make sure that whatever we make up on trade, we don't lose on currencies", he said.

"We are seeing more and more - China included - countries that actually let their currency fluctuate, and that certainly has been the case over the last three years as far as China is concerned", Lagarde said. But global trade would continue to face challenges as the U.S.

"The way the USA has structured the tariffs encourages frontloading because firms that know they're going to hit with tariffs would rather pay 10 percent than 25 percent", he said. President Trump has warned there's a lot more he could do to hurt China's economy.

"That would be very costly for them to do", Mnuchin said.

He said they've had a "big impact" in damaging China's economy, claiming Washington's trade deficit with Beijing has gone down substantially.

The IMF has also lowered estimates for the United States and the global economy as a whole.

"It's obvious that the immediate effects of the trade war are the exact opposite of what the Trump administration had been planning", said Andrew Polk of Trivium China, a Beijing-based economics research firm.

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