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China surplus with US hits record in blow to Trump war

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Containers are seen at a port in Lianyungang in China's eastern Jiangsu province on July 13, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

China's trade surplus with the United States has hit a record in August despite a decline in the country’s export growth amid a trade war between the world's two largest economies.

According to new figures released on Saturday, China’s surplus reached $31.05 billion, surpassing its $28.09 billion record in July.

The new figures are expected to enrage the President of the United States, Donald Trump, who only hours earlier threatened to slap more import tariffs on Chinese goods, worth half a trillion dollars.

Even with the tariffs targeting $50 billion of Chinese exports only in August, China’s exports to the United States still accelerated, growing more than 13 percent from a year earlier from 11.2 percent in July.

Washington has long criticized China’s huge trade surplus with the United States and has demanded Beijing reduce it.

Earlier this year, Trump asked Beijing to cut its massive surplus with the US by $200 billion a year and lower tariffs on US products, in an attempt to what he described as bringing fairness to US-China trade.  

Disagreement between the two leading economic powers, however, deepens with both sides imposing tariffs on each other’s goods in recent months.

China’s Commerce Ministry said on Thursday that Beijing was ready to impose retaliatory tariffs, “if the US dogmatically implements any new tariff measures against China.”

“China will have to take the necessary countermeasures," said commerce spokesman Gao Feng.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow just hours before said talks with Beijing were continuing to try to defuse the conflict, and that he was hopeful that a solution could be found.

The two sides held talks in late August to find a negotiated solution to the conflict, but nothing came of it.

Trump, who had boasted that trade wars were “easy to win”, has again threatened China with more tariffs. He said on Friday he would hit virtually all Chinese imports if Beijing does not back down and take steps to reduce its $335 billion bilateral surplus.

He told reporters that he was “being strong on China because I have to be.”

He made the remarks as Apple, the world's second-largest smart phone producer, warned that the trade dispute will make its products made in China more expensive for Americans, if Trump went ahead with his tariff package.

“Our concern with these tariffs is that the US will be hardest hit, and that will result in lower US growth and competitiveness and higher prices for US consumers,” Apple said.

Many investors and economic analysts are concerned the deepening standoff will derail the global economy.

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