China's trade surplus with the USA grew in 2018 but tariffs bite

Donald Trump's trade war hits Chinese exports

China's foreign trade rose 9.7 percent year on year to a historic high of 30.51 trillion yuan (about 4.5 trillion US dollars) in 2018, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) said Monday.

"China effectively tackled changes of the external environment a year ago, and the foreign trade maintained stable and positive growth, reaching a historic high in import and export volume", GAC spokesman Li Kuiwen told a press conference.

Exports rose 7.1 per cent, customs data showed Monday, down from the 7.9 per cent reported earlier for 2017.

The world's largest trading nation got off to a strong start in 2018, but pressure on the economy started to build later in the year as the United States and China began imposing tariffs on each other's goods and global demand started to cool.

China's exports have fallen to their lowest point in two years while imports are also down.

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The customs administration will work to "improve the country's business environment and expand foreign trade.in order to keep employment, the financial sector, foreign trade, foreign investment" stable, Li said.

Washington has been clamouring for an end to the forced transfer - and even theft - of American technology and intellectual property, as well as steep government subsidies for Chinese companies. China's surplus is the U.S.'s trade deficit.

With US tariffs in place, the gloomy export picture has reinforced the need for Beijing to rely on its legion of consumers to grow its economy.

"Private enterprises contributed more than half to China's foreign trade growth in 2018, a bright spot of China's foreign trade development", said the spokesman.

The country's global trade surplus was $352 billion.

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