China's trade surplus with US surges, calls for patience
China's trade surplus with the United States surged by a fifth in the first three months of the year with Beijing calling on Washington Friday to be patient as tensions between the economic superpowers simmer. Fears of a trade war have been rumbling since last month as President Donald Trump has threatened a series of tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese goods, sparking tit-for-tat warnings from Beijing.
The stand-off lies in the Trump administration's ire at the massive trade imbalance and what it considers unfair practices by China that he says are costing American jobs. President Xi Jinping's vow this week to cut tariffs in some sectors, and Trump's warm response, have calmed some concerns -- but a vast gulf in expectations remains between the two nations.
The latest data showed China continues to benefit from the two-way trade. Its surplus with the US rose 19.4 percent on-year to $58 billion in January-March, with exports up 14.8 percent and imports 8.9 percent higher, according to a spokesman for the customs administration. However, for March the surplus fell to $15.4 billion from February's $21 billion, while it was also down from $17.7 billion 12 months ago.
China registered a rare deficit of $4.98 billion with the rest of the world last month owing to seasonal factors such as the Lunar New Year holiday. China's global exports fell 2.7 percent for the month, while imports grew 14.4 percent -- the early year hiccup in exports is normal with the long holiday disruptions, analysts say.
Against the backdrop of recent tensions, customs administration spokesman Huang Songping repeated China's line that it is not looking for an advantage over its trading partners. "We don't strive for a favourable balance of trade (for China), the current state of trade affairs are shaped by the market," he told a briefing in Beijing.