Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Money | By Armando Alvarado

China's trade growth cools in December

China's trade growth cools in December

China's exports to North Korea rose 8.3% in 2017 from a year earlier, at $3.34 billion, official data showed Friday.

"We have...long expected China's domestic demand and imports to slow in 2018 on gradually tighter monetary and financial policies and slower real estate activity momentum", Louis Kuijs, an economist with research firm Oxford Economics, said in a note.

Economists had expected China's trade surplus to have narrowed to $37 billion in December from November's $40.21 billion. "Import growth will slow too as China's economic expansion slows amid weaker investment in manufacturing and property".

The government is planning to announce GDP data for 2017 next week.

That left the country with a trade surplus of $54 billion for the month, the highest since January 2016.

"A major uncertainty is potential China-US trade frictions", Ding Shuang, chief economist for Greater China and North Asia at Standard Chartered in Hong Kong told Bloomberg News.

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"It will be hard for China's foreign trade growth to remain in the double digits this year, Huang Songping, a spokesman for the General Administration of Customs, said following the release of the report".

In November, China stopped exporting oil products to North Korea, after the U.N. Security Council that month imposed new caps on trade with North Korea, including limiting oil product shipments.

The world's second-largest economy reported strong overall trade data for 2017. Strength in Chinese exports "is bound to add to U.S". The investigation, based on the rarely-used Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, could be a precursor to retaliatory USA policies such as hefty tariffs on Chinese imports.

China benefited from increasing momentum in the wider global economy previous year: the country's overall exports increased 11%, according to government data.

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

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