China-US Trade Surplus Up in 1st Quarter, Down in March

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The move prompted Trump last week to threaten tariffs on an additional $100 billion in Chinese goods, which have yet to be identified.

"He's going to get rid of a lot of taxes and tariffs", Trump said of Xi.

"The global outlook continues to improve", Yi said at a Beijing forum on China's massive Belt and Road trade infrastructure initiative.

Imports rose 14.4 per cent to $179.1 billion, though that was down from 21.7 per cent growth in January and February in a possible indication of slower Chinese demand. But for exporters that depend on the United States market, the potential costs are alarming.

Tokyo's benchmark tumbled by an unusually large 5.1 percent while the Shanghai Composite Index closed down 3.4 percent.

"That might be very useful", Kumar said referring to the US-China trade war.

Chinese exports to the U.S. rose 14.8% on a yearly basis, while imports grew 8.9%. "Nevertheless, the first volley of shots and retaliatory response has been set off".

Trump's Twitter feed maps his lurches from tough talk to optimism and back again, a pattern that has left businesses alternately alarmed and relieved.

China's exports to the United States rose 14.8 per cent in the first quarter from a year earlier, while imports rose 8.9 per cent.

"There's still a grey area", said one manufacturer who declined to be named, adding that there was scope for some factories to fudge such codes to avoid tariffs.

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While U.S. officials, including Trump, have recently expressed optimism that the two sides would hammer out a trade deal, Chinese officials in recent days have said negotiations would be impossible under "current circumstances".

While some analysts, including the US-China Business Council, cautioned that Xi had made similar promises before and never delivered, Manning said Trump was justified in celebrating.

Economists and Chinese officials say the tariff hike's overall impact on China should be limited.

Jonas Short, head of the Beijing office at Everbright Sun Hung Kai, said the market was cheered by Xi's speech because it was framed in more positive terms which could ease trade tensions, but he voiced caution about promised reforms.

"But this is actually marred and disrupted by some unseemly protectionist noises that are coming out of the Atlantic basin, North America, and Europe", Kumar said in an oblique reference to China.

The U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs also have irked Japan, America's closest ally in Asia. "We hope trade relations can return to the track of healthy and stable development".

China's exports growth unexpectedly fell in March, the first drop since February a year ago, raising questions about the health of one of the economy's key growth drivers even as trade tensions rapidly escalate with the United States. Washington reports different figures that put the gap at a record $375.2 billion. Will Beijing find different ways to harm the US economy?

China is unlikely to respond until Washington acts but might launch an investigation of imports of US corn and soybeans "as a warning shot", said Parker.

Chinese exporters supply most of the world's mobile phones, personal computers, televisions, toys and other light manufactured goods.

An agreement to provide Taiwan with submarine manufacturing technology and the appointment of hawkish National Security Adviser John Bolton have also hardened views among anti-American nationalists in China. However, Chinese officials already insist companies aren't required to hand over technology, so it was unclear how policy might change.

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