China '18 trade surplus with USA at record $323B

China '18 trade surplus with USA at record $323B

As Trump has pressed Beijing to increase imports of USA goods, China's trade surplus with the United States hit a record a year ago of $323.3 billion, an 11 percent increase over 2017, according to Chinese customs data released Monday.

A large United States delegation ended a three-day visit to Beijing last week in the first face-to-face trade talks since Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in December pledged a three-month truce in the escalating tariff spat. The spokesman added that China had mostly exported electromechanical goods to Russian Federation, while purchased oil, coal, and wood.

Total imports of soybeans fell 7.9 percent last year to 88 million tonnes, customs data showed, with December imports down 40.1 percent from a year earlier.

China's trade surplus with the United States widened previous year, while the country's imports and exports fell in December as the trade war begins to bite in the world's second biggest economy. Beijing remained a major importer of Russian produce, accounting for 15 percent of the country's worldwide trade as of 2017.

China's global trade volume rose past year but its surplus with the world fell 16.2% to $351.76 billion in 2018, as imports rose 15.8% while exports gained 9.9%.

The dismal December trade readings suggest China's economy may have lost more momentum late in the year than earlier thought, despite a slew of growth boosting measures in recent months ranging from higher infrastructure spending to tax cuts.

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Even if Washington and Beijing reach a trade deal in their current round of talks, it would be no panacea for China's slowing economy, analysts say.

It added that there are some "hidden concerns" and "uncertain external factors" for development.

Chinese exporters also face pressure from cooling consumer demand in other global markets.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly slammed China's trade surplus with the US and the country's allegedly unfair trade practices.

Official data also showed the manufacturing sector contracted in December for the first time in more than two years.

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