China's trade surplus shrinks in Jan.-Feb

China's trade surplus shrinks in Jan.-Feb

China's exports and imports plummeted much more than expected in February, official data showed yesterday, adding to worries about slowing growth in the world's number two economy as it fights a trade war with the United States. The two countries had reportedly been considering a Trump-Xi summit around March 27 to clinch a trade agreement.

Speaking at a press conference in Beijing Saturday the Chinese vice commerce minister said both sides are working toward a deal that is "equal and fair".

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected February shipments from the world's largest exporter to have fallen 4.8 per cent from a year earlier, after a surprise jump of 9.1 per cent in January. The Trump administration says the new deal will expand American farm exports.

The never-ending saga of US-China trade talks trudged on this week, again dominated by one theme: uncertainty. 'Both sides agree that there has to be significant progress, meaning a feeling that they're very close before that happens'. "We're not there yet".

Trump, however, denied on Friday that talks with China had hit a rough patch. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer "is doing the best he can". Instead, he raised the stakes of a potential trade deal, suggesting an agreement would boost equity markets.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the annual meeting of China's parliament, the National People's Congress (NPC), in Beijing which earlier in the week ratified new foreign investment laws, which are an effort to appease USA concerns but have been criticised by foreign companies.

"Looking ahead, we find little reason to expect a rebound in the near term on the back of a sluggish global electronics cycle", said Yeung, adding it would weigh on China's first-quarter GDP growth.

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U.S. administration officials have not made any new plans to send a team to China for face-to-face trade talks though there is much work left to be done to reach a deal, White House trade adviser Clete Willems said on Friday. "If this isn't a great deal, I won't make a deal". Ordinarily, agreements between the USA and other countries are finalized in advance of a presidential summit, leaving leaders to act out public camaraderie following lengthier, more detailed talks between underlings.

"We have made substantial progress on some important issues". While he has dispatched envoys to China, led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, to strike a trade pact, he's also stated that a final accord will only be reached through direct talks between himself and Xi.

But Trump's chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow, speaking on Bloomberg Television at almost the same time as Trump, said the US wants a good deal with China, not a rushed one.

That's left open the prospect that he'll reject whatever deal is struck at the lower level.

"There may be a meeting in Florida, Mar-a-Lago between the two leaders, maybe late this month or early next month". The politically sensitive surplus with the USA for the two-month period was USD42 billion. Washington has threatened to lift tariffs from 10 per cent to 25 per cent on $US200 billion of Chinese imports if they can not resolve thier differences.

But his ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, told the Wall Street Journal on Friday that the two countries were not yet ready to bring Trump and Xi together for a summit and deal signing.

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