China's trade surplus in US dollar terms widened from $42.75 billion in June to $46.74 billion in July, close to the consensus forecast of $46.4 billion. Year-on-year growth in exports slowed from 11.3 percent in June to 7.2 percent in July, below the consensus forecast of 10.8 percent, while year-on-year growth in imports slowed from 17.2 percent to 11.0 percent, also below the consensus forecast of 17.5 percent.
The decline in year-on-year growth in China's exports in July relative to June was largely driven by weaker demand from the United States and the European Union, with recent gains in the domestic currency damaging the competitiveness of Chinese exporters. Exports to the United States rose by 8.5 percent in July, well down from 19.7 percent in June, while year-on-year growth in exports to the EU slowed from 15.1 percent to 9.5 percent. This was part offset by slightly stronger exports to Japan, up 6.6 percent on the year in July compared with 5.5 percent in June.
In seasonally adjusted terms, Chinese exports fell 1.1 percent on the month in July after an increase of 3.7 percent in June. Seasonally adjusted imports fell 0.9 percent on the month after a decline of 1.3 percent in June.
In year-to-date terms, China's trade surplus amounted to $231.68 billion for the first seven months of 2017, almost 25 percent below the $307.54 billion surplus recorded in the same period for 2016. Exports have risen 8.3 percent on the year-to-date, while imports have advanced 17.7 percent.
In domestic currency terms, China's trade surplus increased from CNY294.3 billion in June to CNY321.2 billion in July. Exports grew 11.2 percent on the year in yuan terms in July, down from 13.3 percent in June, while year-on-year growth in imports in yuan terms slowed from 23.1 percent to 14.7 percent.