China's trade surplus with US grows

China Trade Talks Continue Next Week in DC

Highlighting the challenge of significantly reducing that gap any time soon, China's trade surplus with the U.S. widened to US$22.19 billion last month, from US$15.43 billion in March, according to Reuters calculations based on customs data released yesterday.

High-level discussions between the two sides in Beijing last week appeared to make little substantive progress in defusing trade tensions apart from an agreement to hold more talks.

"It is a positive signal", ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters.

Trump has regularly said current trade practices are unfair and hurting American companies and jobs, and has threatened to impose import tariffs to the tune of $150 billion on Chinese goods.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced the plan for continued talks on Monday.

China's trade surplus with the USA totaled $80.4 billion in January-April, up from $50 billion in the same period past year.

Import growth had been expected to pick up to 16 percent, compared with 14.4 percent one month earlier. President Donald Trump's demands that China slash its surplus with the USA have become a cornerstone of his combative economic policy.

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Among the list of hard-line demands that Trump's delegation handed China last week was an ultimatum to cut $200 billion from its annual trade surplus with the U.S.by 2020.

Chinese private enterprises played a bigger role in trade by contributing 38.6 percent to total trade, up 1.2 percentage points compared with the same period past year.

"We don't expect all core differences in the US-China trade relationship to be resolved", Wang Tao, chief China economist in Hong Kong for UBS, wrote in a recent report.

"We think it shows the U.S. side's willingness to reach a consensus with China on economic and trade issues", China's ministry of foreign affairs spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a news briefing.

The two sides agreed that major disputes were still unresolved and a work mechanism should be set up to keep close communication, China's state-run Xinhua News Agency noted.

Julian Evans-Pritchard, an economist at Capital Economics, said despite a seasonal uptick in export growth, the data suggest that foreign demand for Chinese goods has started to soften, with the prospect of possible U.S. tariffs weighing on the outlook.

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