China soy imports hit second-highest on record in Dec -Customs

By Yawen Chen and Ryan Woo

Chinese exports and imports picked up steam previous year thanks to strong global demand, data showed Friday, but its surplus with the United States, a sensitive issue with Donald Trump, widened.

Exports grew 10.9 percent year-on-year in December, data from the General Administration of Customs showed Friday.

The Belt and Road has expanded China's markets, and trade with countries in Latin America and Africa grew by 22 percent and 17.3 percent, respectively, last year.

Tackling the trade gap between the US and China - which Washington has said is US$100 billion wider than Beijing has reported - was one of US President Donald Trump's election campaign promises, though his administration did not address the matter directly in his first year in the White House. In 2016, imports were down 1.1%, according to customs data.

"Import growth will slow too as China's economic expansion slows amid weaker investment in manufacturing and property".

For the month of December, the change was even more dramatic: Overall trade for that month fell 50.6 percent from the same period in 2016.

Trump will have opportunities to impose tariffs on a range of Chinese goods.


Trade balance is forecast to be $37 billion in December against $40.21 in November.

He estimated that imports declined by the biggest margin in nearly two years in volume terms in December as purchases of industrial commodities plummeted.

Chinese imports of soybeans jumped to the second-highest volume on record in December, according to customs data, boosted by strong demand in the run-up to next month's Lunar New Year holiday and healthy crushing margins.

Strength in Chinese exports "is bound to add to US-China trade tensions", Kuijs said.

China's goods surplus with the United States, a sore spot in relations between the two nations, hit a record high of $275.81-billion past year - topping the previous record in 2015 of $260.8-billion. China's December trade surplus with the US was $25.55 billion, compared to $27.87 billion in November.

The U.S. government hasn't announced its own trade figures for the whole of 2017, but experts say they are also likely to show a massive deficit with China.

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