China's trade with North Korea dropped sharply in 2017
13 January 2018, 05:27 | Erica Roy
TOP NEWS: China Trade Cools As Imports Fall Short But Exports Rise 11%
"Although the trade data are often volatile, this latest decline (in import volumes)...is a sign that domestic demand may have weakened at the end of past year", Capital Economics Senior China Economist Julian Evans-Pritchard wrote in a note.
China's December imports came in below market expectations, with a 4.5% year-on-year growth, while exports beat forecasts to rise 11% year-on-year, official data showed Friday.
Analysts at Nomura say continued global growth may offer support, while possible U.S. protectionism could weigh on exports.
Customs is expected to release dollar-denominated trade data later on Friday.
Total Chinese exports were up 10.9 percent year-on-year in December 2017 and 12.3 percent in November.
Foreign trade has become one of China's most dynamic and fastest-growing sectors, placing the country among the world's leading traders during the past decade.
Trump has put tackling the growing trade deficit with China and boosting USA firms' access to its markets among his top priorities since coming to power.
President Donald Trump's administration faces a series of decisions in coming weeks on whether to enact penalties on imports of Chinese solar panels and steel and aluminum products.
Beijing has successfully fended off Trump's campaign rhetoric by making trade concessions, further opening up China's financial markets and signing US$250 billion worth of deals with the USA during the president's Beijing visit in November.
"The next stage is an open economy that focuses on a balance of trade", he said. USA figures put the 2015 deficit with China at $367 billion.
Commenting on the trade issue, Huang Songping (黃頌平), spokesman of the General Administration of Customs, said that there is hope for deeper cross-strait cooperation, with trade becoming stronger this year as long as factors that dampen relations between the two sides can be eliminated.
"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.
China's December trade surplus with the US was $25.55 billion, compared to $27.87 billion in November.
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