China-U.S. Trade Gap Grew to Biggest Ever in 2018

Renewed fears over the strength of the global economy piled pressure on stock markets and commodity prices this morning after China revealed a sharp drop in exports. At the same time, China's imports from Russian Federation grew by 42.7 percent, reaching $59.08 billion.

In 2018, the U.S. imposed billions of dollars worth of tariffs on Chinese products, prompting retaliation from Beijing and a trade war that analysts fear could escalate further and damage the global economy.

China's December soybean imports plunged 40.1 percent from a year earlier, customs data showed on Monday, as it cut purchases from the United States, its second-largest supplier, because of the trade war between the two countries.

Traditionally China imports vast quantities of American soybeans in the second half of the year, long making it the most valuable import from the US.

Imports increased 15.8 percent past year, resulting in a trade surplus of $351.76 billion, the country's lowest since 2013.

However, Beijing's export data had been surprisingly resilient to tariffs for much of 2018, possibly because companies ramped up shipments before broader and stiffer USA duties went into effect.

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In December 2018, therefore, China imported 9.23 million tons of gas, both by pipeline and as LNG, up 17 percent on the year.

Many U.S. warehouses are already packed to the rafters with Chinese goods that American retailers rushed in ahead of higher tariffs.

China exports to the US declined 3.5 per cent in December while its imports from the USA were down 35.8 per cent for the month.

The country's commerce minister told state media on Friday that China will work to straighten out trade frictions with the U.S. this year. For all of 2018, soybean, the second largest imports from the USA, fell for the first time since 2011. Russian Federation is now ranked as China's tenth biggest trade partner.

But a slew of bad data has added to concerns about China's economy, which is expected to have grown around 6.5% in 2018, down from 6.9% in 2017 and the weakest rate in nearly three decades.

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