China's trade gap with the USA widens despite tariffs threat

UPDATE 1-China's April soybean imports fall 13.7 pct as border inspections toughen

Chinese and U.S. flags are set up for a meeting during a visit by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao at China's Ministry of Transport in Beijing, China April 27, 2018.

President Xi seemed to respond to the escalation in early May by signaling a willingness to improve intellectual property protections and cut tariffs on US auto imports to China.

China's April exports rose 12.9 per cent from a year earlier, beating analysts' forecasts for a 6.3 per cent increase and snapping back from a 2.7 per cent drop in March, which economists believe was heavily distorted by seasonal factors. The growing trade surplus comes at a time of escalating friction between Beijing and Washington over the imbalance.

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The visit by Vice-Premier Liu He - considered President Xi Jinping's right-hand man on economic issues - comes after he led talks in Beijing last week with a high-level U.S. delegation.

Imports last month also grew more robustly than expected, suggesting China's domestic demand is holding up well, good news for policymakers looking to soften the blow from any trade shocks.

"China's top economic adviser, the vice premier (Liu He), will be coming here next week to continue the discussions with the president's economic team", White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at her daily news conference yesterday. "The president has a great relationship with President Xi", Sanders said.

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That left the country with a trade surplus of $28.78 billion for the month, customs data showed on Tuesday. President Donald Trump's demands that China slash its surplus with the US have become a cornerstone of his combative economic policy. Last year's surplus totaled $375 billion.

Among the list of hard-line demands that President Donald Trump's delegation handed China last week was an ultimatum to cut $200 billion from its annual trade surplus with the U.S.by 2020. Trump doubled down, threatening $100 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports to the U.S. China's communist leaders have countered by outlining $50 billion in USA goods that they would target with retaliatory duties.

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