China’s January exports rebound; imports fall

China’s January exports rebound; imports fall

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6:15 am, February 15, 2019

The Associated PressBEIJING (AP) — China’s January exports rebounded from a contraction amid a tariff battle with Washington while Chinese purchases of U.S. goods plunged.

The data were announced Thursday as Chinese and U.S. negotiators began talks President Donald Trump says might decide whether he escalates a fight over Beijing’s technology ambitions by going ahead with a March 2 tariff hike on $200 billion of imports.

Total exports rose 9.1 percent from a year earlier to $217.6 billion, an improvement from December’s 3.5 percent decline, customs data showed. Imports declined 1.5 percent to $178.4 billion.

Exports to the United States sank 2.4 percent to $36.4 billion, squeezed by Trump’s tariff hikes.

Imports of American goods plunged 41.2 percent to $9.2 billion, reflecting retaliatory Chinese duty increases and orders to importers to find other suppliers.

The talks in Beijing this week may decide whether Trump allows another increase on $200 billion of imports from China to go ahead March 2.

Weakness in global demand for Chinese goods has increased pressure on the ruling Communist Party to make peace with Washington at a time when Beijing is trying to reverse an economic downturn. The government has warned Chinese exporters the global environment is “complicated and severe.”

“The downbeat outlook for global growth means that this year is likely to be challenging for Chinese exporters, even if the ongoing U.S.-China trade negotiations culminate in a deal,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report.

Chinese trade data early in the year are disrupted by the Lunar New Year holiday, which comes at different times in January or February each year. Factories rush to fill orders and then close for up to two weeks.

China’s global trade surplus for January was $39.2 billion. The surplus with the United States was $27.3 billion.

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