Chinese exports to the U.S. decline by 12.6% in October

Shipments of most major Chinese consumer products to the United States fell in October, hit by dwindling demand, coronavirus disruptions to manufacturing and trade bans. Despite the upcoming holiday shopping season, Chinese exports to the U.S. were down by 12.6% year-on-year to USD47 billion in October, compounding the 11.6% fall in September, according to Chinese customs data. Top Chinese exports to the U.S. – such as mobile phones, clothing, toys and furniture – all declined last month, as the pandemic-triggered consumer goods boom turned into a bust under pressure from price and interest rate rises. Exports of toys, games and sporting products fell 36% to USD2.56 billion, while furniture and bedding dropped 23% to USD2.73 billion.

The impact of a sweeping U.S. ban on all goods from Xinjiang was felt in apparel, with China exporting USD2.28 billion in clothing to the U.S. in October, 35% less than last year. Xinjiang produces around 90% of China’s cotton, but exports of apparel made with the material are subject to scrutiny under the U.S.’ Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act that took effect in June. According to a survey of 34 leading U.S. fashion companies, 86% of respondents said they would reduce their cotton apparel sourcing from China due to concerns about the new law. The survey was conducted from April to June by Sheng Lu, Associate Professor of fashion and apparel studies at the University of Delaware, in collaboration with the United States Fashion Industry Association. Still, Xinjiang’s exports to the U.S. amounted to USD24 million in October, with electrical components such as switches taking over from traditional mainstays such as clothing and Christmas decorations.

October exports of smartphones, one of the most valuable products in China’s exports to the U.S., also fell month-on-month despite the release of Apple’s new iPhone 14 series in mid-September. According to the customs data, China shipped 11.07 million smartphones to the U.S. in October, almost 580,000 fewer than September. A coronavirus outbreak and lockdowns at the world’s biggest iPhone factory in Zhengzhou, Henan province, triggered an exodus of workers and disrupted production last month. Apple has also warned of lower iPhone shipments for the year-end holiday season, the South China Morning Post reports.