China reported on Friday an unexpected acceleration in export growth in September and a record trade surplus with the United States, which could exacerbate an already-heated dispute between Beijing and Washington.
September exports rose 14.5 per cent from a year earlier, Chinese customs data showed. That blew past forecasts for an 8.9 per cent increase in a Reuters poll and was well above August's 9.8 per cent gain.
Growth in imports for September instead showed a moderate slowdown to 14.3 per cent from 19.9 per cent in August, slightly missing analysts' forecast of a 15.0 per cent growth.
China's trade surplus with the United States widened to a record in September despite wider application of U.S. tariffs, an outcome that could push President Donald Trump to turn up the heat on Beijing in their trade dispute.
The politically-sensitive surplus was $34.13 billion in September, surpassing the record of $31.05 billion in August.
China's export data has been surprisingly resilient to tariffs, possibly because companies ramped up shipments before broader and stiffer U.S. duties went into effect.
A weaker yuan, which has depreciated about 6 per cent against the dollar this year, may have taken the sting out of the tariffs imposed on $250 billion of exports to the United States.
For trade with all countries, China logged a surplus of $31.69 billion for September, compared with forecasts in a Reuters poll for $19.4 billion and August's surplus of $27.89 billion.
China's economy is feeling the heat from a tit-for-tat tariff dispute and showing signs of slowing that prompted the central bank on Sunday to loosen policy by cutting banks' reserve requirement ratio (RRR) for the fourth time this year.
A U.S. Treasury official this week voiced concerns about China's recent currency depreciation.
With China's manufacturing sector cooling and export orders shrinking, Beijing has pledged to increase export tax rebates from Nov. 1 for the second time this year and promised to cut the corporate burden on a larger scale to help to struggle Chinese firms.
The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday cut its global economic growth forecasts for this year and next, saying that the U.S-China trade war was taking a toll. It also slashed China's growth forecast for next year to 6.2 per cent from 6.4 per cent.
China will cut import tariffs on a wide range of goods beginning on Nov. 1, as part of Beijing's pledge to take steps to increase imports this year amid rising tension.