November 12, 2018 / 9:23 AM / a month ago

Chinese city reliant on US trade fires official for faking export data

BEIJING (Reuters) - A senior official at the local commerce department of one of China’s most U.S.-trade dependent cities was fired for inflating export figures, as part of a wider government crackdown on falsification of economic data that started last year.

Liu Yuhong abused his power by falsifying export data when he was the vice director of Zhongshan’s commerce department, according to a statement on the website of the city’s anti-graft watchdog.

The statement did not specify the time period in which the data was falsified.

Liu, who will soon be prosecuted, was the vice head of the department between August 2014 and December 2017. He moved to another role within the department in December last year, according to the statement late on Friday.

Exports from Zhongshan, one of the most trade-reliant cities in China’s export powerhouse Guangdong province, plunged almost 20 percent for the first three quarters this year. That compared with a 0.4 percent gain for the whole of Guangdong.

The United States has levied additional duties of between 10 percent and 25 percent on $250 billion of Chinese goods this year as punishment for what it calls the country’s unfair trade practices, with the 10 percent tariffs set to rise to 25 percent from January next year.

Over 70 percent of Zhongshan’s exports are machinery on the U.S. tariff list.

On the national level, exports have been particularly robust as firms keep rushing out shipments to beat the U.S. tariffs due to kick in at the turn of year. But analysts warn shipments could fall sharply early next year if the U.S. follows through on higher duties.

The frictions have had limited impact on China’s foreign trade so far, the commerce ministry said in a statement on Monday, while noting trade growth for late 2018 could be adversely impacted when compared with relatively strong growth in the same period last year.

Factory surveys have shown foreign orders for Chinese goods have been shrinking for several months in a row. The value of export orders to the United States signed at China’s largest trade fair that ended last week dropped 30.3 percent on the year.

Reporting by Stella Qiu and Ryan Woo; Editing by Kim Coghill

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