Chinese Exports to the U.S. Get a Lifeline From Coronavirus-Related Demand



Liyan Qi | The Wall Street Journal

Chinese shipments of virus-related goods to the U.S. have helped the country offset sharp drops in its top export categories due to Washington’s tariffs and the global economic downturn.

The trade pact the U.S. and China signed in January left in place U.S. tariffs on about $370 billion in Chinese goods, roughly three-quarters of the country’s exports to the U.S. Nonetheless, China’s exports to the U.S. have increased in recent months, a resilience that has surprised economists.

U.S. Census data released Tuesday showed that of the top 10 categories of Chinese exports to the U.S. in 2019, eight showed sharp drops this year through August.

Clothing exports dropped 46%, footwear fell 40%, while furniture and toys fell 26% and 22% respectively. Together these products made up about one-fifth of the country’s exports to the U.S. last year. Electric machinery including audio and TV equipment, China’s top export category to the U.S. last year, dropped 19% in the first eight months compared with the year-earlier period.

Almost all of these wares have been targeted by punitive Trump administration tariffs, though some items have been granted exemptions.