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China's trade surplus with U.S. widens as exports surge

09 May 2018

In April, China's trade surplus with the USA swelled to $22.2 billion, up from $15.4 billion in March.

China's Foreign Ministry said that a planned visit by President Xi Jinping's top economic adviser, Liu He, to Washington next week shows the USA hopes to "reach a consensus" with Beijing on trade and economic issues.

The Chinese government issued a new batch of fuel export quotas totalling 19.33 million tonnes for 2018 under the general trade category, with market participants expecting Beijing to keep the total amount of grants this year largely flat from last year at around 43 million tonnes.

China's exports rebounded more strongly than expected last month after a surprise drop the previous month, suggesting global demand remains relatively resilient and providing a cushion to the economy amid a heated trade dispute with the United States.

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Its imports from the U.S. rose 20.3 percent, the fastest growth in three months.

USA officials visited Beijing last week for talks on cooling rising tensions between the world's two largest economies over trade and technology issues.

Mr. Trump is seeking to cut the chronic US trade deficit and gain concessions over policies that foreign companies say force them to share technology with Chinese partners in order to gain market access. The President has a great relationship with President Xi.

Analysts had expected China to post a trade surplus of $24.7 billion for April after a rare deficit of $4.98 billion the previous month. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy Larry Kudlow, and Assistant to the President for Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro were all on the trip.

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The White House has announced that China's top economic advisor and Vice Premier Liu He is set to visit Washington next week to resume discussions concerning the settling of trade issues.

For January to last month, it rose to US$80.4 billion, from about US$71 billion in the same period a year ago.

The figures Tuesday will likely reinforce Washington's determination after high-level talks in Beijing last week ended with both sides admitting there were big differences to overcome, with threats of tariffs on billions of dollars of goods casting a shadow.

Julian Evans-Pritchard, an economist at Capital Economics, said despite a seasonal uptick in export growth, the data suggest that foreign demand for Chinese goods has started to soften, with the prospect of possible U.S. tariffs weighing on the outlook.

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China's trade surplus with U.S. widens as exports surge