US trade deficit with China still on the rise
The US trade deficit in goods with China totaled $33.2 billion in May 2018, its highest monthly level since January and a four-percent increase year-on-year. US exports to China grew 7.6 percent year-on-year to $10.6 billion, while US imports from China increased 4.8 percent year-on-year to $43.8 billion, according to the most recent report from the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
In the first five months of 2018, US exports to China were $52.9 billion, a 7.8 percent increase year-on-year, and imports from China reached $205.1 billion, up 9.4 percent year-on-year. The year-to-date, US deficit with China totaled $152.2 billion, an increase of 9.9 percent from 2017.
On July 2, China’s General Administration of Customs released an unexpected statement describing exports to the United States in the first six months of 2018. According to the statement, exports to the United States grew only 5.4 percent year-on-year during that period, a significant decline from the same period in 2017. Some analysts questioned the data’s reliability, noting, in particular, that taking into account the renminbi’s (RMB) exchange rate against the US dollar, China’s exports to the United States should have sustained double-digit growth rates.
Analysts also noted that the timing of the release (on the eve of US tariffs on Chinese products going into effect) was suspicious, and likely aimed at deescalating the tensions over the size of the US deficit with China.