China's trade surplus with U.S. surges, calls for patience

Fraser Hammond - China to Reduce Tariffs on Imported Cars

Data released by the General Administration of Customs showed that the surplus with the USA jumped 19.4% to US$58 billion between January and March compared to the same period past year.

China's global trade balance swung to a rare deficit last month as exports shrank, but its surplus with the U.S., the center of a worsening dispute with Washington, stood at US$15.4 billion.

The latest readings on the health of China's trade sector follow weeks of tit-for-tat tariff threats by Washington and Beijing, sparked by United States frustration with China's massive bilateral trade surplus and intellectual property policies, that have fueled fears of a global trade war.

Exports increased by 14.8% while imports edged higher at 8.9%, prompting a plea from the customs administration spokesman, Huang Songping, for Washington to be "patient."

Meanwhile, China's trade surplus with the 28-nation European Union, its biggest trading partner, shrank by half from the previous year to US$3.6 billion.

For the year ending in March, goods exports rose 9.8 percent to $302.8 billion from a year ago, while imports rose 19.6 percent to $459.7 billion.

Analysts expected China would record a trade surplus of US$27.21 billion for last month, from February's surplus of US$33.75 billion.

The global trade balance often slips into deficit for one month early each year as factories restock following the Lunar New Year holiday.

China's global exports fell 2.7 percent for the month, while imports grew 14.4 percent - the early year hiccup in exports is normal with the long holiday disruptions, analysts say.

Imports of commodities continued to lead the way in March as manufacturers replenished inventories ahead of a seasonal pick-up in demand.

China has said it expected reasonable growth in broad M2 money supply and total social financing this year.

China's exports rode a global trade boom previous year, expanding at the fastest pace since 2013 and serving as one of the key drivers behind the economy's forecast-beating expansion.

US President Donald Trump has approved a possible tariff hike on US$50 billion of Chinese goods in response to complaints that Beijing has been stealing or pressuring foreign companies to hand over technology. "The current state of trade affairs is shaped by the market", he told a briefing in Beijing.

Hi-tech products have been among its fastest growing export segments.

The Austrian officials signed $1.85 billion in contracts with China, according to the report.

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