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China’s Exports Unexpectedly Fall, Q1 Trade Surplus With U.S. Rises 19.4% YoY

– China’s exports unexpected fell 2.7% in March from a year earlier, missing the estimated 11.8% increase, while trade surplus with the U.S. rose 19.4% in the first quarter to $58.3 billion from the same period a year earlier, data on Friday showed.

On the other hand, Imports grew 14.4%, the country’s custom administration said. Import growth was previously expected to pick up to 10%.

Escalating trade disputes with the U.S. cast shadows over China’s trade outlook, as U.S. President Trump became increasingly frustrated with China’s massive bilateral trade surplus and intellectual property policies.

The tension has eased somewhat this week as Chinese President Xi Jinping said at the Boao forum that the country would open up its economy more and cut import tariffs. Meanwhile, Trump said on Friday that he is considering to rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade deal that he pulled out shortly after taking office, and that China and the U.S. might not levy any new tariffs on each other after all.

On the other hand, a cooling property market could potentially affect demand for imported raw materials.

“We hope both China and the U.S. can solve the disputes with wisdom and respect, in a constrictive way,” Huang Songping, a spokesman for the customs administration, said Friday at a briefing in Beijing. “We hope trade relations can return to the track of healthy and stable development.”

First quarter data are often affected by the week-long Chinese New Year holiday in February as well as currency effects.

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