Economy

China's USA trade surplus hit record in 2018 but tariffs bite

China's USA trade surplus hit record in 2018 but tariffs bite

China's exports rose 9.9 percent in 2018, its strongest trade performance in seven years, despite growing disruptions from an escalating trade war with the United States, customs data showed on Monday.

The figures come after a U.S. delegation held three days of talks in Beijing last week in the first face-to-face meeting since Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in December pledged a 90-day truce to resolve the crisis.

"We're doing very well with China", Trump told reporters at the White House.

China's trade surplus with the USA hit a record past year, as robust American demand for Chinese goods undercut the Trump administration's tariff offensive aimed at narrowing the countries' lopsided trade gap. Beijing remained a major importer of Russian produce, accounting for 15 percent of the country's global trade as of 2017.

A slowdown in global demand and a trade dispute with the U.S. are being blamed for the current predicament China finds itself in.

But the data also revealed that exports slowed by 3.5 percent last month, as the administration of President Donald Trump imposed a series of stiff tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese goods to force Beijing to buy more American goods and to resolve issues involving technology, intellectual property and cyber theft issues.

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"I think Beijing clearly knows the pressure that they are under to restore confidence domestically in their leadership but also internationally", Associate Professor at Fulbright University Vietnam Christopher Balding said.

The trade slowdown sent Chinese stocks lower on Monday.

China's global trade volume rose previous 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%.

China's annual passenger vehicle sales fell last year for the first time in more than 20 years, as the trade war with the U.S. rocked consumer confidence and Beijing reined in auto financing channels.

China's global exports rose 7.1 percent to $2.5 trillion, down from the 7.9 percent rate reported earlier for 2017. Import growth also fell sharply in the face of cooling domestic demand.