China imports, exports tumble in February

Copper price: Chinese concentrate imports hit monthly record

The United States and China have been battling over trade tariffs since a year ago.

China's foreign trade of goods fell 13.8 percent year on year in February to 266.36 billion US dollars, customs data showed Friday.

Exports to members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations also fell 12 percent to US$3.55 billion, but those to the United States rose 13.5 percent to US$2.99 billion.

On Friday, however, Trump's ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, told The Wall Street Journal in an interview that no date has been set for a trade summit in Florida since talks are still continuing between USA and Chinese negotiators.

It's worth noting that the growth rate for iron ore imports in the first two months is substantially higher than what was achieved in 2018, when imports for the whole year actually dropped 1 percent from the prior year.

Earlier on Friday, White House trade adviser Clete Willems the two countries had made progress in talks but that there was still much more left to be done.

The fall in exports was far bigger than the 4.8% drop forecast in a Reuters poll of economists.

The trade slump has added to pressure on Chinese leaders to make peace with Washington in their tariff fight over Beijing's technology ambitions.

China-US trade in goods
China-US trade in goods

While China runs the risk of Xi leaving a summit empty-handed if details are not nailed down, Branstad said that USA officials want there to be some flexibility.

On a month-on-month basis, Taiwan's exports fell 25.3 percent and imports were down 41.4 percent in February, the MOF data shows.

"China is set to have a hard time on trade, because on the US front there is the trade war, and on the European Union front the economy is really weakening", said Tommy Xie, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp.in Singapore.

US President Donald Trump said last month he may sign a deal to end the trade war with Chinese President Xi Jinping if their countries can bridge remaining differences, and do so at his property in Mar-a-Lago in Florida.

The China deal has been at the heart of Trump's economic and diplomatic efforts over the past year, starting with his abrupt imposition of steep tariffs on billions in Chinese imports in 2018.

The country's global trade surplus was USD43.7 billion.

The economic superpowers have been locked in a trade battle since last summer, striking out with steep tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way trade, which is beginning to sap economic growth and business confidence.

He also lowered the government's goal for economic growth to a range of 6 to 6.5 percent for 2019, down from about 6.5 percent previous year.

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