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Title: ChinaÂ’s exports fall unexpectedly in August, as trade war continues to slam industrial economy
Source: [None]
URL Source: https://www.scmp.com/economy/china- ... dly-august-trade-war-continues
Published: Sep 8, 2019
Author: Finbarr Bermingham William Zheng
Post Date: 2019-09-08 06:38:18 by WWG1WWA
Keywords: China, exports, tariffs
Views: 257
Comments: 7

China’s exports fall unexpectedly in August, as trade war continues to slam industrial economy

Shipments down 1 per cent in month despite analysts forecasting further growth after 3.3 per cent rise in July.

Imports remain cause of concern for Beijing, falling 5.6 per cent in August, meaning they have only grown in one month in 2019.

China’s exports fell unexpectedly in August, as the trade war with the United States continued to hit the world’s second largest economy.

Exports fell by 1 per cent last month after growing 3.3 per cent in July. The August result was below the 2.1 per cent growth expected in poll of analysts conducted by Bloomberg.

July’s expansion now seems like an anomaly, likely driven by front-loading as new tariffs of 15 per cent on about US$110 billion of Chinese goods that took effect on September 1. American buyers of Chinese goods subject to the new tariffs were likely to have filled their inventories as much as possible before the goods became more expensive to import.

Furthermore, the much-reported 3.8 per cent depreciation of the yuan in August failed to stop the decline in exports - despite Washington’s fears that it was being used to give China’s exporters an unfair advantage.

It is a far cry from the double-digit expansion that characterised the export machine that powered the Chinese economy for more than two decades.

Overall in August, the value of China’s total import and export was US$394.76 billion, down 3.2 per cent on a year earlier.

Imports also remain a huge cause of concern to policymakers in Beijing. They fell by 5.6 per cent in August after a 5.3 per cent decline in July. This was slightly better than the Bloomberg poll, which had predicted a 6.5 per cent contraction.

Chinese imports have now declined in every month of 2019 apart from April. To understand the scale of the import collapse, compare it to last year, when the average monthly growth was 16.6 per cent, with only a single negative reading, in December 2018.

Analysts have been raising concerns about China’s consumption levels for months, with retail sales underperforming and various bouts of government stimulus failing to kick-start purchases of big ticket items such as cars. The sluggish imports suggest the government support has yet to trickle into the real economy.

The import slump also points to a downturn in the manufacturing sector: many of China’s imports are components ordered by factories, often for use in goods for export. In the most recent official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index, a gauge of factory owners’ sentiment, export orders remained in negative territory for the 15th month in a row.

Overall, China’s trade surplus in August was US$34.84 billion, down from US$41.61 billion in July and behind analysts’ expectation for US$44.25 billion. However, this was an increase of 32.5 per cent on a year earlier, according to a release from the National Bureau of Statistics on Sunday.

In a report released on Thursday, the Institute of International Finance, an organisation of bankers based in Washington, had said that China’s surplus over the first half of the year had hit record highs, despite the ongoing trade war.

“Meanwhile, our proxy for China’s underlying trade surplus, which controls for commodity prices by excluding oil and iron ore, was the highest ever in the first half of 2019,” read the report.

“Perhaps more surprising, given repeated rounds of tariffs, is that China’s exports remain robust. Part of the resilience in China’s exports reflects a shift in composition, away from the US and towards the euro zone and other economies in Asia, including Vietnam,” the authors said.

Top negotiators from China and the US are set to meet in early October for their first face-to-face talks since August.

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#1. To: WWG1WWA (#0)

Best to bite the bullet now and get this over with China. We've paid for their military and made billionaires out of communists. An Amazing feat.

Liberals are like Slinkys. They're good for nothing, but somehow they bring a smile to your face as you shove them down the stairs.

IbJensen  posted on  2019-09-08   9:07:12 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#2. To: WWG1WWA (#0)

China will cave to Trump. There is far more danger to China, both short-term and long-term, in allowing this trade war to continue. China needs America far far more than America needs China. And both sides know it. Nor can China hold out and hope to see Trump defeated in 2020. By then, China's growth economy is certain to stall in major ways and the tariffs will encourage manufacturers to relocate their operations to other countries.

Trump's objectives are to open China's markets and to diversify our imports away from their concentration in China's workshop.

CNBC: Tariffs are no longer China’s biggest problem in the trade war, 9/6/19

What a difference two weeks makes.

Two Fridays ago, pundits seemed to be beside themselves over what was the latest flare up in the U.S.-China trade war. President Trump raised tariffs in retaliation for China’s retaliatory tariffs, he called Fed Chairman Jerome Powell an “enemy,” and the Dow plummeted 623 points while the Nasdaq closed 3% lower.

Now it seems like trade deal optimism is back in the air. New formal talks between the U.S. and China have been announced for next month, and there are even high-level Chinese sources suggesting a breakthrough could occur at those meetings.

It doesn’t appear there’s anything the Trump administration has done to improve this sentiment. Right now, it’s the more encouraging news and messaging from China that’s the cause of that optimism.

But what forced this sudden change in the rhetoric from Beijing?

It’s not the new round of tariffs that went into effect; we’ve been playing the tit-for-tat tariff war for more than a year. It’s not the economic reports; they’ve been a little too mixed lately to force any dramatic moves. It’s not even the decision by Hong Kong administrator Carrie Lam to fully withdraw the controversial mainland extradition bill; it’s still not clear that the Hong Kong unrest would be affected in any way by a trade deal.

Given the timing of the change in tone, it seems more likely that what’s making the difference is a realization on both sides that there’s another way this trade war could end – and that possible ending is one the U.S. is very unlikely to lose.

That alternate ending is summed up in one word: decoupling.

The decoupling push is quite different than any U.S. efforts to get China to open up more of its economy to American companies. Instead, it focuses on reducing America’s extremely heavy reliance on China for so much of its manufacturing needs.

Even if China’s economy weren’t so closed off to so many American goods and services, a strong argument has long been made that the U.S. needs to diversify its sources for imports. While finding those new sources wouldn’t necessarily do anything to dent America’s trade imbalances, it would reduce the risks of a major disruption to the U.S. economy based on disputes or other problems connected to a single foreign country.

So what happened between Aug. 23 and this week’s trade optimism-fueled rally?

Thanks to some major news about Google, the world got its clearest notice yet that U.S.-China decoupling has gone from just a theory to something that’s really happening.

Just five days after that trade war flare up, the Nikkei business daily reported on Aug. 28 that Google is shifting its Pixel smartphone production to Vietnam from China starting this year and that the company is also looking to shift some of its smart home speaker assembly to Thailand.

It’s not that Google is the first U.S.-based company to announce some shift away from China; more than 50 other big names have moved out or scaled back. But the timing of Google’s reported plans and how they seem to have affected Beijing can’t be ignored.

It’s important to note that decoupling, even if the trend continues, isn’t necessarily a bullish force for the U.S. economy. It doesn’t mean there will be any increase in American jobs, as the expected Google moves to Vietnam and Thailand make clear. The tariffs on Chinese goods are also not making America richer or directly growing our economy, no matter what the White House says.

Decoupling is best understood as a national security benefit, as opposed to an economic stimulus.

For China, further decoupling has to be a terrifying scenario. The U.S. remains the world’s number one consumer market, and America is now clearly looking to shop around. Beijing needs to come up with some kind of offer to slow this trend either at the trade negotiating table or in some kind of arrangement with the U.S. manufacturers that are still in China.

Meanwhile, the benefits of American trade diversification and continued U.S. economic strength are giving the Trump administration the gift of time. This is the opposite of the conventional wisdom that China and president-for-life Xi Jingping have the advantage of waiting out President Trump, who supposedly needs a trade deal sometime before next year’s elections. It’s also quite different from the notion that the U.S. needs to “win” the trade war by getting major Chinese protectionist barriers removed.

In the end, simply looking out for U.S. security concerns above immediate economic benefits might have been the point of this trade war all along.

Trump has time to win his trade war with China and extract major concessions prior to the 2019 X-mas season.

China would like to take Trump down. But not at the cost of losing factories to other countries not named China. China isn't willing to suffer the kind of permanent pain that trying to defeat Trump would cost them.

And that is why the Chinese are so eager to negotiate in D.C. next month.

Tooconservative  posted on  2019-09-08   9:13:08 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#3. To: Tooconservative (#2)

The Chinese economy was already in trouble. It subsidizes their industries and just bailed out a few major banks. There will be no new American innovation to steal, also.

I've never understood our factories staying in China when they know their secrets are stolen and produced & marketed cheaper than they can. Theft of property, smh.

WWG1WWA  posted on  2019-09-08   9:35:57 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#4. To: WWG1WWA (#3)

I've never understood our factories staying in China when they know their secrets are stolen and produced & marketed cheaper than they can. Theft of property, smh.

They are very accommodating to get foreign factories built there. They've learned that it isn't so easy to relocate elsewhere once the factory is running.

They also have something of a monopoly on rare earth elements needed in manufacture of a lot of high-tech items. They leverage that need against the IP of foreign companies, forcing them to locate there if they want those rare earth elements, like neodymium and others for things like cell phones and tablets and lithium batteries. 0bama took China to trade arbitration over its refusal to export rare earth products in 2014 and China did comply by 2015. But much of the damage was done by then with key factories being built there in the meantime and workforces trained to build those products in China. China felt overall that they had stolen a march on America and on its rivals, like South Korea and Taiwan. And they were right to think it was shrewd industrial policy.

If we're determined, China does comply. But not if we just ask nicely. Trump knows this and China knows that he knows this.

Tooconservative  posted on  2019-09-08   10:28:19 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#5. To: WWG1WWA (#0) (Edited)

Just wait until the Chicom murdering tyrants are forced to admit that Hong Kong is beginning to disinvest and on its way to becoming just another commie shithole long before 2047.

No matter how the current riots resolve, who in the hell would ever want to put money into HK again? They're already negotiating leases and banking arrangements elsewhere.

I just hope the Chinese people catch the commie tyrants as they try to escape and roast them in the streets.

Hank Rearden  posted on  2019-09-09   11:42:02 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#6. To: Tooconservative (#4)

They also have something of a monopoly on rare earth elements needed in manufacture of a lot of high-tech items.

Rare earths are all over the earth. The Chinese have merely developed their mining more. There's a pile of them in Afghanistan, easy to get out of the ground (harder to ship). In Canada and the Rockies, in the Andes, probably in the Alps (though who's going to look).

For strategic reasons we need to develop the supplies in the Americas, particularly in the US, Canada and Mexico. We have them and we know it - time to get them online.

They are also present in seawater, as are all minerals. It's not economically feasible yet to extract minerals from seawater (it certainly can be done - the Germans extracted some gold from it after World War I in a bid to pay sanctions. Ultimately they determined that the concentration levels of gold in seawater were only a tenth of their earlier predictions, so it was non-economical due to all of the coal that needed to be burnt to do it. Use sunlight, and you can get all of the precious metals and all of the rare earths you need out of the brine left from the seawater you turned into freshwater for agricultural purposes.

As solar power gets cheaper and cheaper, sunny places like the Mexican coasts become places to experiment with that.

Vicomte13  posted on  2019-09-09   14:38:19 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#7. To: Vicomte13 (#6)

Rare earths are all over the earth. The Chinese have merely developed their mining more. There's a pile of them in Afghanistan, easy to get out of the ground (harder to ship). In Canada and the Rockies, in the Andes, probably in the Alps (though who's going to look).

Yeah but who wants the pollution that results from mining and refining them? Nobody. China was smart to grab on to it and leverage their industrial policy but they have the usual utter commie indifference to long-term pollution problems.

China has a very large lake of toxic byproducts from its production of lithium batteries (5.5 miles in diameter). But their dominance with lithium has faded the last few years.

It sounds like these new lithium production methods aren't as bad as what China used for its rare-earth processing. But it is far from clean.

Australia and South America, specifically the “lithium triangle” of Argentina, Chile and Bolivia, currently dominate 80 to 90 percent of lithium production, according to James Whiteside, a managing consultant on Wood Mackenzie’s metal and mining consulting team.

South American production relies on brines pulled from deep inside the earth. At brine sites, the salty water is spread out over large surfaces at a level of a few feet deep and left to evaporate for months. Moved from pond to pond, the concentration of lithium slowly increases until it can be separated from the rest of the brine. The raw lithium is then processed into lithium chloride to be used in applications like batteries. In Australia, raw producers concentrate on the more energy-intensive and costlier hard rock mining, where lithium is crushed out of stones.

Tooconservative  posted on  2019-09-09   17:38:34 ET  (1 image) Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

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