China's September trade surplus with US widens to record $34.13 billion

White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow holds a news briefing

China's vast export engine unexpectedly kicked into higher gear in September, producing a record trade surplus with the United States that could exacerbate the already-heated dispute between Beijing and Washington.

In fact, the September surplus with the US was larger than China's overall trade surplus of $31.69 billion for the month.

Over the first nine months of the year, China's surplus with its largest export market totaled $225.79 billion, compared with about $196.01 billion in the same period last year.

Relations between the world's two largest economies soured sharply this year, with US President Donald Trump vowing on Thursday to inflict economic pain on China if it does not blink.

The two countries imposed new tariffs on a massive amount of each other's goods mid-September, with the USA targeting $200 billion in Chinese imports and Beijing firing back at $60 billion worth of United States goods.

While the data showed China's trade remained strong for the month, analysts forecast the trade war will begin to hurt in the coming months.

The second round of tariffs that the Trump administration imposed on China came into effect only on September 24, so the increase in exports last month might have been the result of Chinese companies rushing to sell their products before the additional duties were added.

A weaker yuan CNY=CFXS, which has depreciated about 6 percent against the dollar this year, may have taken the sting out of the tariffs imposed on $250 billion of exports to the United States.

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China retaliated by imposing $60 billion in tariffs on USA products.

The yuan has lost almost 10 percent of its value against the USA dollar this year.

Analysts say a sharp depreciation of the yuan has also helped China weather the tariffs by making its exports cheaper. Last month, Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) said at least 20 Taiwanese businesses were likely to relocate back to Taiwan from China after the tariffs were enforced.

The U.S. economy is strengthening, with unemployment low and growth increasing, while the Chinese economy is slowing, sapping Chinese consumers' ability to buy imported goods.

Yesterday, President Trump, as quoted by The Times, pledged to punish China for its perceived aggression against the United States, saying there was "a lot more to do" to China.

In an interview on Fox News on Thursday, President Trump praised his tariffs on Chinese imports.

China has denied it is interfering.

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