China September exports surge, creating record surplus with U.S. despite tariffs

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China’s vast export engine unexpectedly kicked into higher gear in September, producing a record trade surplus with the United States that could exacerbate the already-heated dispute between Beijing and Washington.

Analysts said last month’s strong export growth – which might indicate U.S. tariffs are not biting much yet – is unlikely to be sustained.

But the robust numbers reported on Friday by China’s customs agency – the last ones from China before U.S. congressional elections on Nov. 6 – could prompt a reaction from U.S. President Donald Trump.

September exports rose 14.5 percent from a year earlier, the fastest pace since February, the customs data showed. That was well above August’s 9.8 percent and a Reuters poll forecast of 8.9 percent.

“The big picture is the Chinese exports have so far held up well in the face of escalating trade tensions and cooling global growth, most likely thanks to the competitiveness boost provided by a weaker renminbi,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics.

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