China logs record trade surplus with U.S. in 2018

Donald Trump's trade war hits Chinese exports

Customs data showed that Chinese exports rose 11.3 percent in 2018 to $478.4 billion, while imports from the USA only rose by 0.7 percent. Import growth declined to 12.9 per cent from the previous year's 15.9 percent.

China's December exports unexpectedly fell 4.4 per cent from a year earlier, with demand in most of its major markets weakening.

For the month, imports also unexpectedly contracted, falling 7.6 percent, the biggest decline since July 2016.

China's politically sensitive trade surplus with the United States surged to a record $323.3 billion in 2018 as a tariff battle with Washington intensified.

China's large trade surplus with the United States has always been a sore point with Washington, which has demanded Beijing should take steps to reduce it.


"The export growth print also suggests that the recent strength of the yuan might be short-lived; Beijing will perhaps be more eager to strike a trade deal with the U.S.; and that policymakers will need to take more aggressive measures to stabilise GDP growth". "We expect both to remain weak in the coming quarters", Capital Economics said in a note. China has retaliated with tariffs of its own.

But December's gloomy data seemed to suggest the US front-loading effect has tapered off, and after several months of falling factory orders a further weakening in China's exports is widely expected in coming months.

U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods have put additional strains on China's already cooling economy, prompting policymakers in Beijing to announce a series of growth-boosting measures to avert the risk of a sharper slowdown.

The country's global trade surplus was $352 billion.

"China effectively tackled changes of the external environment past year, and the foreign trade maintained stable and positive growth, reaching a historic high in import and export volume", the customs spokesperson, Li Kuiwen, said on Monday. He added that cooperation with Belt and Road countries "has become new driving force of China's foreign trade development".

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