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China’s exports fell less than expected in June

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A docker works in front of a container ship at Qingdao Port in Qingdao, Shandong Province of China.

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China’s dollar-denominated exports fell 1.3% in June from a year ago while imports fell 7.3% in the same period, the country’s customs department reported on Friday.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected China’s June exports to have declined 2% from a year ago, while imports were expected to have contracted 4.5% from a year earlier.

In May, exports inched up 1.1% year-on-year, while imports fell 8.5% during the same period. China’s May overall trade surplus was $41.65 billion.

Overall trade surplus was $50.98 billion in June, higher than economists’ expectations of $44.65 billion in the Reuters poll. Trade surplus with the U.S. was $29.92 billion in June, up from $26.89 in May, customs data show.

June marked the first full month of higher U.S. tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods, which were implemented weeks earlier.

In the first half of the year, China’s total trade with the U.S. was down 9%, customs data showed.

China’s first half exports to the U.S. fell 2.6% from a year ago, while imports from the U.S. fell 25.7% on-year, Reuters reported, citing a customs spokesman.

Trade frictions with the U.S. brought some pressure on China’s trade but its impact was manageable, the customs spokesman said, Reuters reported.

Friday’s data from Beijing came after U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed at the Group of 20 summit in Japan that they would not, in the near term, implement any more tariffs against each other’s countries.

However, the two economic giants remain at an impasse in their trade dispute, prompting fears of an economic slowdown globally due to the disruption in supply chains.

The fallout from the trade fight appeared to be playing out at American ports. The Los Angeles and Long Beach port complex in the U.S., the nation’s busiest and the No. 1 for ocean trade with China, handled 5.1% fewer inbound containers of cargo in June, as the trade standoff between Washington and Beijing disrupted global supply chains, Reuters reported on Thursday.

Data from other parts of the world are also not encouraging.

On Friday, Singapore — a trading hub and export-reliant economy seen as an bellwether for global growth — reported that preliminary data showed its GDP shrank 3.4% in the April-June period from the previous quarter on an annualized and seasonally adjusted basis. That was the biggest quarterly contraction in nearly seven years and off economists’ expectations of 0.1% quarterly growth.

—Reuters contributed to this report.

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