While most attention among global onlookers is focused on the almost unbelievable divergence between US and Chinese stocks this year, actual 'real' Chinese import and export data suggest President Trump is far from winning this trade war... in fact it's never been worse.
Headline trade figures show China exports to the rest of the world grew at 14.5% YoY in USD terms (almost double expectations) and imports rose 14.3% YoY in USD terms (below expectations and well below August's 20% rise).
However, all eyes were on the US-China interaction and that's where the fun and games begin...
Chinese exports to the US rose 14.0% YoY in USD terms - the most since February - but, Chinese imports from the US actually dropped 1.2% YoY in USD terms
That pushed China's exports to US to a new record high and saw China's imports from the US sink to 6-month lows... sending China's trade surplus with the US to a new record high...
As Bloomberg notes, China’s exports rebounded, while imports remained robust, thanks to strong demand at home and abroad despite worsening relations with the U.S.
China’s exports have been growing robustly all year, in the face of rising tariffs and increasing uncertainty over relations with the U.S. Companies front-loading trade to get ahead of the expected tariff increases might explain part of the growth in the third quarter, but that would likely wane as the relationship between the world’s two biggest economies deteriorates.
"Chinese exports look set to weaken in the coming quarters as global growth slows," wrote economists from Capital Economics in a note. "U.S. tariffs will also be a drag, although front-loading by US importers mean that much of the impact won’t be felt until next year."
In other words, by the metric that President Trump judges the trade relationship with China - things have never been worse...ever!
However, trade growth may slow in the fourth quarter, the customs administration’s spokesperson said at a press conference, while cuts to import tariffs are boosting inbound shipments.