China Exports Rise More Than Forecast

China Exports Rise More Than Forecast

"China's foreign trade continued to build on a solid foundation for steady growth, its potential being gradually unleashed", said customs spokesman Huang Songping.

China's December imports from North Korea slumped 81.6 percent year-on-year to $54.34 million, China's customs said on Friday.

China's general trade has increased both in volume and proportion, expanding to 15.66 trillion yuan a year ago and accounting for 56.4 percent of total foreign trade. In the first half of 2017, Zhoushan Port handled 515 million tonnes cargoes, up 11.3 percent year-on-year, and 12.39 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) containers, up 14.6 percent year-on-year.

But weaker growth in December reinforced evidence of slowing momentum in the world's second-biggest economy, as the government's intensified war on pollution and a crackdown on debt risks weigh on activity.

"The record high trade surplus is likely to lead to more trade disputes between China and the USA", said Tommy Xie, an economist at Singaporean bank OCBC.

"LNG imports last month reached new highs according to our cargo monitoring and pipeline imports from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan also ramped from previous month", said Diao Zhouwei, analyst of IHS Markit.

The trade data also showed China's goods surplus with the US, a sore spot in relations between the two nations, hit a record high a year ago. That figure, if confirmed, would be higher than the existing record of $367 billion, logged in 2015.

Specifically, China's exports to Taiwan were valued at 297.9 billion yuan in 2017, while its imports were 1.05 trillion yuan, an annual growth of 12.2 percent and 14.5 percent, respectively, the data indicated.

Record imports by state energy firms and higher Chinese production have pushed down domestic wholesale LNG prices in north China.

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USA data show that the deficit in goods trade with China was already $347 billion in 2016. Strength in Chinese exports "is bound to add to U.S".

Washington has also launched the procedure for a probe into whether Chinese companies are stealing the intellectual property of US companies.

Trump will have opportunities to impose tariffs on a range of Chinese goods. The U.S.is expected to release the findings of the investigation soon.

China has so far resisted taking major retaliatory action against United States imports despite a volley of new duties and investigations from the White House.

ANZ analyst Betty Wang said that even though a broad-based bilateral trade war is "highly unlikely" in 2018, it is possible that the US will take "unilateral actions on Chinese exports in specific sectors".

"The overall global environment will continue to be very supportive in terms of global demand for a second consecutive year, and that's going to support China's exports sector", Grace Ng, a China economist at JPMorgan in Hong Kong, said in a Bloomberg Television interview.

"Export growth declined slightly last month but remained healthy".

He estimated that imports declined by the biggest margin in nearly two years in volume terms in December as purchases of industrial commodities plummeted. That could mean softening demand for imports as Chinese businesses and consumers tighten their belts.

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