Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

China's surging exports widen trade surplus with US

China's surging exports widen trade surplus with US

China's $275.8 billion surplus a year ago surpassed the previous record of $261 billion in 2015, according to Chinese data.

Chinese iron ore imports fell 11 percent in December from the previous month, but full-year shipments were at a record high, customs data showed on Friday, as the world's top consumer bought more imported raw material to ramp up steel output.

China remains Russia's biggest trade partner in terms of trade turnover. Indeed, China became the world's biggest global trader in 2013, but lost its position at the summit to the U.S. in 2016 following two hard years of difficulties.

Total Chinese exports were up 10.9 percent year-on-year in December 2017 and 12.3 percent in November.

What's more, if China's economy slows this year as some experts predict, that could widen the trade deficit further.

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Chinese officials have threatened retaliation for any USA penalties in closed-door meetings with American officials and companies.

Beijing has successfully fended off Trump's campaign rhetoric by making trade concessions, further opening up China's financial markets and signing US$250 billion worth of deals with the United States during the president's Beijing visit in November. The investigation, based on the rarely-used Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, could be a precursor to retaliatory US policies such as hefty tariffs on Chinese imports.

Gao Feng, a spokesman for China's Ministry of Commerce, said on Thursday that both countries should manage their differences through dialogue to prevent them from escalating into conflict. Imports missed analysts' forecast of 13.0 percent growth and were a sharp decrease from the 17.7 percent rise in the previous month.

However, Kujis of Oxford Economics believes import growth will only soften moderately this year, as the Chinese government has been careful not to let its tightening measures deal blows to the economy.

Recently, under heavy pressure from Washington, the world's second-largest economy has been increasingly clamping down on its historical ally.

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