BEIJING • Chinese exports to the United States and the rest of the world recorded a surprising leap last month, according to data yesterday, indicating that businesses are expanding transpacific shipments before paying higher rates.
Relations between the world's two largest economies have worsened this year when US President Donald Trump has reached higher taxes on about half of China's imports and threatened to hit the other half.
The top Chinese leaders are now in Washington, hoping that these talks could pave the way for trade breakthroughs this month when Mr Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit in Argentina.
However, exporters continued to rush goods across the Pacific last month, with Chinese exports to the US rising by 13.2% over the same period last year, according to data released by the Chinese Customs Administration.
"October's surprisingly strong export performance seems to be partly due to the continuous front-loading effect and is unlikely to be a long-term trend," said Betty Wang economist at ANZ.
China's trade surplus with the US fell last month to $ 31.8 billion ($ 43.6 billion), from a record $ 34.1 billion in September.
October has marked the first full month of US $ 200 billion in Chinese commodity rates – but the rate is set to move from 10% to 25% in January.
Mr. Trump repeatedly boasted that the US can not lose a trade war with China, but Beijing's US tariffs are far more damaging to business.
Chinese imports from the US dropped 1.8 percent last month, while its surplus with the United States increased to $ 258 billion in the first ten months of the year.
The weakening yuan, which dropped 9 percent from January over the US dollar, helped offset additional rates for Chinese products.
Analysts are not optimistic that the upcoming meeting between the two heads of state will resolve friction.
"We do not expect the Xi and Trump meetings to be positive during the G20," said Iris Pang of ING Bank for Bloomberg News.
"We just hope the meeting will not lead to further damage to business relations."
China's Total Trade – What it buys and sells with all countries, including the US – has recorded a surplus of $ 34 billion for this month.
Exports grew 15.6 percent in October, defeating Bloomberg's forecast by 11.7 percent, while imports grew 21.4 percent year-on-year, well above the forecast of 14.5 percent.
"While shipment to the United States has kept well, people have been growing faster in other parts of the world," said Louis Kuijs of Oxford Economics.
"Global demand may be better than it feared, while weaker Chinese yuan also helps exporters in the country."
Strong imports have shown that the Chinese economy remains stable, although in the third quarter, GDP growth of 6.5% was the slowest in nine years.
Beijing could come out of the campaign to cope with the growing debt that has seriously increased growth, analysts said.
"Robust imports, especially commodities, could be an indicator of boosting investment in infrastructure and stabilizing the real estate market," said Ms. Wang of ANZ.
Despite robust business data, analysts predict that the US and Chinese conflicts will come in the coming months.