China Exports Post Seasonal Drop, Leaving Surprise Trade Deficit

Fraser Hammond - China to Reduce Tariffs on Imported Cars

Total trade with the United States rose 6.3% in the quarter, customs said.

The surprise announcement follows China's largest-ever naval display in the disputed South China Sea, involving more than 10,000 navy personnel, 76 fighter jets and a fleet of 48 ships and submarines.

Fiercer competition in the global manufacturing sector will also pose challenges for China's foreign trade, he said. "Strive to make the people's navy a first-rate world navy".

But the sudden spike in trade tensions with the United States is clouding the outlook for both China's "old economy" heavy industries and "new economy" tech firms alike.

After Trump unveiled another set of planned tariffs last Friday, Xi this week struck a conciliatory note, promising to cut tariffs on cars - a key point of United States anger - and other imports, as well as further open up the economy.

Customs reported a trade surplus of $US15.43 billion with the USA, below the $US20.96 billion level seen in February.

Trump has portrayed the issue in a more favourable light.

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We may have differing perceptions on our borders but India and China coming together to try and bargain for lower oil prices from West Asian crude producers is a welcome step. "I think we're having some great discussions", he told the gathering of lawmakers in Washington, though he repeated that the United States would win a trade war between the two sides.

At the same time, the anticipation of the consequences of a trade war between Washington and Beijing in the form of financial sanctions may tarnish this prospect, according to him. "And, you know, at a certain point, they run out of bullets".

The trade deficit came in at USD4.98 billion in March, in contrast to the expected surplus of USD27.5 billion.

No hard timeline has been set by either Washington or Beijing for the actual imposition of tariffs, which leaves the door open to negotiations and a possible compromise which could limit the damage to both sides and other trade-reliant economies.

Trade between the two nations remained strong in the first quarter, with bilateral exchanges rising 13 percent to $142 billion.

Analysts are still expecting China's economic growth to slow later in the year, however, as a cooling property market weighs on demand for building materials from cement to steel.

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