China Ramps Up Imports From U.S. as Trade Deal Target Looms

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China ramped up purchases of American goods in September as its economy strengthened, though it still remains far from the full-year target set out under its Phase One trade deal with the U.S.

The monthly value of U.S. goods that China bought under the trade agreement reached a monthly record high of $9.9 billion in September as oil, soybean and car imports surged. That still leaves China’s purchases at only 38.5% of a total target of more than $170 billion for the year, according to Bloomberg calculations based on Customs Administration data.

Click here for the full breakdown of the customs data

Under theagreement signed in January, China promised to buy an additional $200 billion of U.S. goods and services over the 2017 level by the end of 2021. The coronavirus pandemic upended some of those plans as demand crashed in the first quarter, but China’s recovery since then is gaining momentum, with imports gradually accelerating.

Purchases of U.S. energy goods jumped about 75% in September from the previous month as China imported arecord amount of crude oil. The increase could reflect rising demand for cheaper U.S. oil and supplies for heating as winter approaches.

The value of agricultural goods bought from the U.S. climbed about 60%, with imports of soybeans surging more than 600%. Cotton also jumped, possibly due to China seeking torebuild state reserves as demand from the nation’s textile industry is showing signs of recovery.

The customs data showed China had bought 35.35% of the American farm goods it agreed to buy under the trade deal in 2020, in contrast to a U.S. governmentstatement last week saying purchases stood at $23 billion, or 71% of the target. The latter includes goods that have been shipped, as well as those sold butnot yet exported by the U.S.

China’s purchases of vehicles from the U.S. surged last month, boosting overall manufactured imports andreflecting a pickup in consumer confidence. Purchases of integrated circuits remained steady in the month.

— With assistance by Molly Dai, Lin Zhu, Miao Han, and Zheng Wu

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