Reuters BEIJING (Reuters) — China reported stronger-than-expected exports for October as shippers rushed goods to the United States, its biggest trading partner, seeking to beat higher tariff rates due to kick in at the start of next year.
Import growth also defied forecasts for a slowdown, suggesting Beijing’s efforts to cushion the cooling economy may be slowly starting to make themselves felt.
Exports rose 15.6 percent last month from a year earlier, customs data showed on Thursday, picking up pace from September’s 14.5 percent. The reading handily beat analysts’ forecasts in a Reuters poll for a slowdown to 11 percent, though estimates had varied widely.
Growth in imports for October quickened to 21.4 percent from 14.3 percent in September, again beating analysts’ forecast for a slight cooling to 14 percent.
China’s trade surplus with the United States was $31.78 billion in October, off a record high of $34.13 billion in September.
October was the first full month after the latest U.S. tariffs went into effect.
Despite several rounds of U.S. duties this year, China’s exports have been surprisingly resilient as firms ramp up shipments before stiffer U.S. tariffs go into effect.
Container ship freight rates from China to the U.S. West Coast remain near record highs set in September, suggesting solid November shipments as well.
But analysts say the risk of a sharp and sudden export slump is growing as higher tariffs near, noting factory surveys have shown falling export orders in recent months.
U.S. orders for Chinese goods at the latest Canton fair dropped 30.3 percent from a year earlier by value, the fair’s organizer said on Sunday, as higher U.S. tariffs made goods from batteries to farm tractors costlier.
For the first 10 months of the year, China’s surplus with the United States, its largest export market, totaled $258.15 billion, widening sharply from $222.98 billion in the same period last year.