Published: Mon, January 14, 2019
Finance | By Loren Pratt

China's trade surplus with the U.S. grew in 2018 but tariffs bite

China's trade surplus with the U.S. grew in 2018 but tariffs bite

The cost of producing goods in China's factories slowed sharply in December, a sign demand remains weak, while consumer inflation also flagged.

On a global level, China's exports have grown by 9.9 percent previous year, but the Asian country also marked a 15.8 percent growth in imports.

Exports rose 7.1 per cent, customs data showed Monday, down from the 7.9 per cent reported earlier for 2017. Imports also saw a shock drop, falling 7.6 per cent in their biggest decline since July 2016.

China's trade surplus with the United States shot up by 17.2 percent in 2018 compared to the year before, according to Chinese data released on Monday, reaching a record-breaking $323.3 billion (€281.9 billion).

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

The two countries have hit each other with tit-for-tariffs on goods worth hundreds of billions of dollars. China has retaliated with tariffs of its own.

However, Beijing's export data had been surprisingly resilient to tariffs for much of 2018, possibly because companies ramped up shipments before broader and stiffer U.S. duties went into effect.

However, in a sign that the White House's measures are having an impact, China's exports to the USA sank last month.

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

USA 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. China's surplus is the U.S.'s trade deficit. For all of 2018, soybeans, the second largest imports from the United States, fell for the first time since 2011.

China's export growth is expected to have eased for a second straight month in December as global demand weakened, raising pressure on Beijing as it tries to reach a trade deal with Washington.

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