BEIJING – The trade war with the United States continues to affect Chinese manufacturers whose exports were down in November on what had been forecast, 1.1 percent year on year.
Imports, however, grew for the first time since April.
The data comes to light a week before the US is scheduled to impose new tariffs on Chinese exports should both parties not reach an agreement.
Despite an expected seasonal rebound for the holiday season, exports saw their fourth consecutive month of decline, which was even more pronounced than the 0.9 percent recorded in October.
Imports were up 0.3 percent in what was the first increase since April and the second of the year.
The Chinese foreign trade surplus dropped to $38.7 billion in November compared to $42.9 billion in October.
Analysts did not forecast a fall in exports in November and most predicted growth of 0.8 percent due to the effect of Christmas on sales, especially the sale of Chinese electronics abroad.
The director of statistics of the Chinese General Administration of Customs, Li Kuiwen, said that “international economic and commercial growth has slowed down this year,” but “the Chinese economy remains stable.”
Data shows how Chinese trade with the US has declined while it has increased with the European Union and Southeast Asia.
China’s trade surplus with the US fell in November to $24.6 billion from $26.45 billion in October.
In the first 11 months of 2019, China’s total trade with the US fell by 15.2 percent, with a 12.5 percent decline in exports and 23.3 percent in imports.
But exports to the EU increased by 4.5 percent and Chinese imports from European countries also increased by 0.3 percent.
Exports to the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) grew 11.5 percent in November, with imports up 2.8 percent.
The data made available Sunday by the Chinese General Administration of Customs comes to light as two studies were published this week pointing to an improvement in China’s macroeconomic situation.
The impact of the trade war has also been seen in US trade data that was released Thursday.
The deficit in the international trade of goods and services of the United States fell by 7.6 percent in October to $47.2 billion.
US exports fell 0.2 percent to $207.1 billion while imports fell 1.7 percent to $254.3 billion.
The deficit in trade with China fell 1.1 percent to $31.3 billion.
Beijing and Washington are negotiating the first phase of an agreement that would put an end to the trade war they have been battling for almost a year and a half.
But the political differences between the two nations are making it tricky to reach a solution.
The approval of two laws supporting the protests in Hong Kong on the part of the US and the launch of another bill criticizing the repression of the Uyghur minority in the Chinese autonomous region of Xinjiang has clouded relations in recent weeks.
If both sides fail to reach an agreement in principal on 15 December, it is likely the US will impose new tariffs on Chinese exports.