China's trade surplus in US dollar terms narrowed from $46.74 billion in July to $41.99 billion in August, well below the consensus forecast of $48.4 billion. Year-on-year growth in exports slowed from 7.2 percent in July to 5.5 percent in August, below the consensus forecast of 6.5 percent, while year-on-year growth in imports picked up from 11.0 percent to 13.3 percent, above the consensus forecast of 10.0 percent.
The decline in year-on-year growth in China's exports in August reflects weaker external demand from major trading partners. Exports to Japan, in particular, slowed from an increase of 6.6 percent on the year in July to 1.1 percent in August, the weakest growth since February, while year-on-year growth in exports to the European Union also dropped from 9.5 percent to 5.2 percent. Growth in exports to the United States was more stable, falling slightly from 8.5 percent to 8.4 percent, but was again the weakest growth since February.
In seasonally adjusted terms, Chinese exports fell 1.5 percent on the month in August after dropping 1.1 percent in July. Seasonally adjusted imports fell 0.9 percent on the month in August, as they did in July.
In year-to-date terms, China's trade surplus amounted to $271.46 billion for the first eight months of 2017, almost 25 percent below the $354.89 billion surplus recorded in the same period for 2016. Exports have risen 7.6 percent on the year-to-date, while imports have advanced 16.9 percent
In domestic currency terms, China's trade surplus narrowed from CNY294.30 billion in July to CNY286.5 billion in August. Exports grew 6.9 percent on the year in yuan terms in August, down from 17.3 percent in July, while year-on-year growth in imports in yuan terms slowed from 23.1 percent to 14.4 percent.