China Trade Surplus With US Continues To Mount Amid Frictions

China's trade surplus with the US actually grew in April despite Trump's tough talk

The negotiations could head off the threatened U.S. tariffs targeting $150 billion in imports from, while China has warned $50 billion in goods are in the firing line.

"We believe this shows the U.S. wishes to reach a consensus with China on trade issues", ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press briefing.

Tuesday's data also showed China's refined fuel exports were 46-percent higher than a year earlier at 5.12 million tonnes, but eased from a record-high in March at 6.69 million tonnes.

United States officials led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin visited Beijing last week for negotiations with the Chinese government, but the meeting appeared to yield little except an agreement that the two powers would continue to communicate despite "big differences" between them.

"The core of the U.S. position is that China become a genuine market economy on an expedited schedule and that the United States reserves the right to be judge and jury in determining compliance", Scott Kennedy, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote in a commentary about the talks.

The heated row with Washington and threats of tit-for-tat punitive measures on trade and investment have added to concerns about an economic slowdown in China this year as Beijing continues its campaign to reduce risks to the country's financial system.

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China's foreign ministry called the White House statement a "positive signal".

The Trump administration has drawn a hard line, demanding a US$200 billion (S$268 billion) cut in the Chinese trade surplus with the USA, sharply lower tariffs and advanced technology subsidies.

According to the news agency Reuters, citing sources close to the talks, China has offered to buy more American goods and to reduce some tariffs, including those on cars.

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. Last year's surplus totaled $375 billion. Its imports from the U.S. rose 11.6 per cent in the same period.

At the same time, imports growth accelerated to 21.5% from 14.4% in the previous month.

That left China with a trade surplus of US$28.78 billion for the month, compared with forecasts for a US$24.7 billion surplus in April and a rare deficit of US$4.98 billion in March.

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