BEIJING – China’s trade surplus fell 26.7 percent in the first half the year, mainly due to an 11.5 percent hike in imports, amid a backdrop of an ongoing tariff-war with the United States, according to official data released on Friday.
According to the figures released by the General Administration of Customs, China registered a trade surplus of 901.32 billion yuan ($135 billion) in the first half of 2018.
Chinese imports grew by 11.5 percent year-on-year during the period, reaching the figure of 6.6 trillion yuan.
The products that registered the biggest rise in imports include natural gas (35.4 percent), machine tools (27.2 percent) and fruits and dry fruits (21.2 percent), while waste imports fell 56.3 percent.
The data also showed that China’s exports grew 4.9 percent between January and June 2017 to reach 7.5 trillion yuan, a growth which exceeded analysts’ predictions.
The export growth was fueled by exports of automobiles, which jumped 41.9 percent, rice (34.4 percent) and petroleum (28.4 percent), while the biggest export slumps were recorded in coal (55.3 percent), crude oil (41.5 percent) and ships (18.5 percent).
China’s total foreign trade was worth 14.12 trillion yuan during the first six months of the year – a 7.9 percent growth year-on-year.
The GAC attributed the growth to global economic recovery and stability in the domestic market.
China’s trade surplus with the United States, one of the main reasons behind the Washington announcing trade tariffs on Chinese imports, increased in the first half of 2018 to 852 billion yuan ($127.4 billion).
Chinese exports to the US rose 5.7 percent year-on-year during the first six months of 2018, to stand at 1.39 trillion yuan, while Chinese imports of American products increased at a rate of 4 percent to stand at 538 billion yuan.
Although the effects of the ongoing trade war between China and the US were not visible in the data released on Friday, customs spokesperson Huang Songping warned that the protectionist measures announced by US President Donald Trump would have a negative impact on bilateral trade as well as international trade in general.
On Monday, Washington announced the application of tariffs to Chinese imports valued at $200 billion, in addition to the ones announced last week worth $34 billion, escalating the trade war between the two economic superpowers.
Huang said that China is trying to diversify its foreign trade to make it more balanced and mitigate the effects of the worsening trade ties with the US.