China was the world's largest consumer of soybeans, accounting for roughly 60.0% of USA soybean exports before the trade war kicked off and for $5.9 of agricultural purchases in 2018, U.S. census data showed. Analysts had expected a 2.0 per cent drop after June's 1.3 per cent fall.
Last week, Washington said it would impose an additional 10% tariff on Chinese products worth $300 billion, starting from September 1.
While China's exports to the US continued to shrink in July in the face of stiffer tariffs, shipments picked up to Europe, South Korea, Taiwan and, most noticeably, Southeast Asia (ASEAN).
China's rare earths association has warned that the trade conflict with the U.S. will harm American businesses and consumers, as it confirmed its readiness to weaponize the prized elements.
China's trade surplus with the United States stood at US$27.97 billion in July, narrowing from June's US$29.92 billion.
Al Jazeera's Scott Heidler reports from Beijing. The Chinese association rarely comments on the trade war and made no mention of export restrictions, but said all attendees at the meeting agreed that USA tariffs on Chinese goods were aimed at suppressing China's development and amounted to unilateralism, protectionism and "trade bullying behavior".
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China's exporters and their USA customers have been whipsawed in recent months by trade uncertainties, with the fallout rippling through global suppliers from Germany to Singapore.
Additionally, on August 6 Beijing confirmed that Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have been instructed to halt all purchases of American farm products and that it has also not ruled out imposing its own additional tariffs on already-purchased USA agricultural products.
That left China with a trade surplus of US$45.06 billion last month, compared with a US$50.98 billion surplus in June. But the figure for the first seven months of this year was up by around 4 percent, indicating a continuing imbalance.
China's July exports to the United States fell 6.5 per cent year-on-year, while imports from America slumped 19.1 per cent.
In response to this new 10% tariff, on August 5 the Chinese government devalued its currency to below the 7-1 ratio it held with the U.S. dollar, the first time it has dipped below this mark since 2008.
While China has stepped in to stabilize the yuan in recent sessions, markets remain on edge in case of further weakness. This effectively made Chinese exports cheaper globally and more competitive with American goods, softening the blow of the USA -imposed tariffs. Other major data over the coming week is expected to show a loss of momentum in July, reinforcing views that Beijing will need to roll out more support measures.