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Published: Fri, March 10, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

China's February imports surge, exports growth slows

China's February imports surge, exports growth slows

That left the country with a trade deficit of $9.15 billion for the month, the General Administration of Customs said.

China's trade balance was thrust back into the spotlight by Donald Trump during the USA presidential election campaign. Mr. Trump blames United States trade policy for the loss of American factory jobs and the import-driven surge in the trade gap could intensify the debate on a cross-border tax.

The US goods and trade deficit increased to $48.5bn for January from $44.3bn in December.

For January, the USA deficit with China increased 12.8 per cent to $31.3 billion, the highest level since September.

"Bilateral trade deficits do indeed matter, and it is a critical economic goal and in the interest of national security to reduce these deficits in a way that expands overall trade", Peter Navarro, the director of the White House's newly formed National Trade Council, said Monday.

Economists believe overseas shipments fell in February as there had been a rush to fill orders in the previous month before the Lunar New Year holiday, the Wall Street Journal reports. Based on this method, researcher Capital Economics says exports are up 11% this year after flatlining in the fourth quarter of last year.

"China has for years bought huge amount of commodities to boost its domestic infrastructure, which, however, remained unnoticeable due to low global prices", she said. The U.S. trade deficit widened to the largest in nearly five years in January.

In February, Chinese exports to Russian Federation increased by 14.9 percent to $2.02 billion, while imports from Russian Federation increased by 44.3 percent to $3.014 billion, the customs statistics showed.

Exports rose 0.6% while imports jumped 2.3%.

"Export growth this year is set to be the strongest since 13.3 percent in 2012" in yuan terms, according to Tim Condon, head of Asian research at ING Groep NV in Singapore.

Carrie Gracie: Could China's Trump tactics actually be working? The year-on-year hike in imports for February was a whopping 38.1%.

China's February trade deficit is "unlikely to persist" and "indicates little change in China's trade dynamics", Betty Wang of ANZ Research said in a note.

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