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China's exports rise, but imports shrink for a fourth month

14 April 2019

China's economic growth is expected to cool to around 6.3 per cent in the first quarter of the year and may not bottom out until later in the year, according to a Reuters poll.

While export orders remained sluggish, there were signs that a long spell of contraction was easing even as trade talks with the United States appeared to be making progress.

Exports to the U.S. in January and February fell 14.1percent in the year earlier.

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In the first quarter, exports rose 1.4 percent from a year earlier, while imports fell 4.8 percent.

Exports to the United States rose 3.7% to $31.8 billion, recovering from February's 28.6% decline despite Trump's tariffs of up to 25% on $250 billion of Chines goods.

There were further concerns at the end of March, when it was announced that China's industrial companies saw their profits fall by 14 per cent in the first two months of the year as the impact of the trade war with the United States and widespread economic slowdown continued to take root. But he said exports have yet to fully recover from a sharp slowdown late a year ago. Dow Jones said the surplus was only expected to have come in at $6 billion. Meanwhile, global growth has been downgraded by the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization says the conflict over tariffs will hit global trade growth this year.

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All told, that gave China a March trade surplus of $32.64 billion, according to Reuters and Dow Jones calculations.

It raises questions about the current strength of domestic demand, especially as rising oil prices should have pushed up imports, said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a note. In coming months, we expect modest export growth as the base effect fades. However, they say if this occurs, the Chinese exports of this year will likely be lackluster.

Washington and Beijing have largely agreed on a mechanism to police any trade agreement they reach, including establishing new "enforcement offices," US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday.

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ING economist Iris Pang said: "Exports jumped on seasonal factors while imports continued to shrink, with less demand for USA goods compared to a year ago". Last year, the country expanded by 6.6%, its slowest growth since 1990.

China's exports rise, but imports shrink for a fourth month