Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Chinese inflates today, exports higher prices tomorrow

Here is some more bad news, just in time for Paulson's visit to Beijing. China has rising prices and an ever growing trade imbalance with the US.

HONG KONG, Dec. 11 — Inflation accelerated further in China last month, government statisticians announced today, as rising costs for food and fuel together with government currency policies are sending prices up briskly across Asia.

Consumer prices were 6.9 percent higher in China in November than a year earlier — the biggest increase in Chinese prices in almost 11 years. The big contributors were food prices, which vaulted 18.2 percent, and fuel prices, which climbed 5.5 percent as the Chinese government raised regulated retail prices for gasoline and diesel, although these prices remain slightly below world levels at $2.65 a gallon.

Rising prices in China are part of a regional trend. Indonesia announced last week that inflation was 6.7 percent in November, while Vietnam officials did not even wait for the end of November before announcing that inflation there had hit 10 percent for the month.

Governments across most of Asia have been issuing more of their own currencies to buy dollars in an effort to maintain the competitiveness of their exports. So while the strengthening euro has hurt European companies’ sales in the United States, Asian countries like China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia and even Cambodia are still increasing their share of United States imports, according to American data for the first three quarters of this year compiled by Global Trade Information Services, based in Columbia, S.C.

China’s customs agency released a preliminary estimate today that the country ran a trade surplus of $26.28 billion last month, up 14.7 percent from the month a year ealier and nearly matching the record of $27.05 billion set in October.

But briskly expanding money supplies and strong industrial growth to produce export goods have been contributing to inflation across Asia. Asian currency and trade policies are also prompting more unhappiness in Washington and European capitals, particularly with China, which has been especially aggressive in holding down the value of its currency.