Donald Trump says US-China trade war worked

Trucks deliver offloaded containers to designated areas at the Qingdao New Qianwan Automatic Container Terminal in Qingdao Shandong Province China on October 14. File

Trucks deliver offloaded containers to designated areas at the Qingdao New Qianwan Automatic Container Terminal in Qingdao Shandong Province China on October 14. File

The trade deficit with China narrowed 17.6% a year ago to $ 345.6 billion. President Donald Trump, who has dubbed himself "the tariff man", has pledged to shrink the deficit by shutting out more unfairly traded imports and renegotiating free trade agreements.

Excluding services, the U.S. deficit in goods fell by almost $20 billion to $866 billion a year ago, as imports of Chinese products hit by Trump's punitive tariffs dropped 17.6%, according to the report.

That pushed China down to third place among America's top trading partners for goods in 2019, as Mexico vaulted to the top spot, slightly ahead of Canada.

Trump has argued that substantially cutting the trade deficit would boost annual economic growth to 3% on a sustainable basis.

In fact, growth in the world's largest economy slowed in 2019 to 2.3 percent compared to 2.9 percent in 2018, as business sharply curtailed investment due to the trade uncertainty.

The cut will be effective from 1.01pm on Feb 14, Beijing time, according to the statement, the same time that the USA will implement reductions in tariffs on Chinese products.

He warned that, "Firms appear to have met demand by running down inventory, but that can't go on forever".

Goods imports were boosted by a US$1.7 billion increase in crude oil imports, which contributed to a US$4.0 billion jump in imports of industrial supplies and materials.

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Goods imports tumbled 1.7% previous year, with exports decreasing 1.3%, showing that the Trump administration's "America First" agenda decreased the flow of goods.

Upon the "phase one" signing, shoe industry leaders were optimistic but urged the administration to roll back all tariffs on consumer goods. That reflects steady gains in American consumer spending, which drives imports. Trump has imposed United States $ 360 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports in a fight for Beijing's aggressive urge to question American technological dominance.

With exports set to rise, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has warned farmers not to expect another federal bailout in 2020.

The company's top-selling aircraft was grounded worldwide in March 2019 following two deadly crashes, and exports of civilian aircraft fell 22.2 percent.

China will halve tariffs on some $75 billion of imports from the US later this month, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement on Thursday.

On January 16, China and the United States signed the long-waited phase one trade deal that involves intellectual property rights, technology transfer, food and agricultural products, and financial services.

The reduction will apply to levies of 5 percent and 10 percent that were imposed on more than 1,700 items in September, according to the State Council Tariff Commission.

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