China's trade surplus with USA widens to record $34.1bn

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Chinese exports to the United States have at least temporarily defied forecasts they would weaken after being hit by punitive tariffs of up to 25 percent in a fight over American complaints about Beijing's technology policy.

The U.S. Treasury Department's staff has advised Secretary Steven Mnuchin that China isn't manipulating the yuan as the Trump administration prepares to issue a closely watched report on foreign currencies, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Asia expert Michael Pillsbury on Friday said he's hopeful that President Trump and China's President Xi Jinping will reach a trade deal soon, but there's still some unfinished business.

Ho, a naturalized U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty past year to conspiring to produce "special nuclear material" in China in violation of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act.

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Beijing's exports have been robustly growing all year in the face of rising tariffs and increasing uncertainty over relations with Washington.

Mnuchin suggested that the two leaders could meet next month if the Trump administration felt trade discussions were moving in a positive direction. In 2017, the USA had a deficit with China of $376 billion, excluding services, out of a total goods deficit with the world of $832 billion.

"We are seeing more and more - China included - countries that actually let their currency fluctuate, and that certainly has been the case over the last three years as far as China is concerned", Lagarde said.

A cargo ship is seen at a port in Qingdao in China's eastern Shandong province on Friday.

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China's trade surplus with the United States ballooned to a record $34.1 billion in September, despite a raft of U.S. tariffs, official data showed Friday, adding fuel to the fire of a worsening trade war.

The yuan has fallen for weeks against the USA dollar, dropping nine percent in the past six months, which mitigates the rise in the price of Chinese goods caused by punitive United States tariffs. The central bank has tightened controls on currency trading to head off further declines. President Trump has warned there's a lot more he could do to hurt China's economy.

With global growth cooling and USA threats of more tariff hikes, "the recent resilience of exports is unlikely to be sustained", said Evans-Pritchard. "And, obviously, that would be very costly for them to do".

Trump accuses Beijing of engaging in unfair trade practices, including forced technology transfers and intellectual property theft. Apple, for instance, has an established supply chain in the world's second-largest economy, with the Greater China region accounting for about a fifth of its sale.

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