President Trump: The United States can forge a trade deal with China

Irving Hamilton
March 11, 2019

In natural gas, Chinese customs data showed the total intake, including LNG and pipeline shipments, stood at 7.55 million tons last month, which was down from January, when China imported 9.81 million tons of natural gas, but up on February 2018, by 8.8 percent.

However, deducting the Spring Festival factor, China's foreign trade rose 3.9 percent year on year in February, with exports increasing 1.5 percent and imports rising 6.5 percent, respectively, in USA dollar-denominated terms.

Its politically sensitive trade surplus with the USA narrowed to US$14.7 billion for the month from US$27.3 billion in January, the Chinese General Administration of Customs data showed.

"Seasonal distortions around the Chinese New Year holiday has added noise to the export data in the past two months, and in our view explain most of the surprise (relative to consensus)", said analysts at Goldman Sachs, whose estimate for a 20 percent export drop was the most pessimistic in the Reuters poll.

The US and China have placed tariffs on billions of dollars worth of one another's goods since July, casting a shadow over the global economy.

Kudlow told CNBC that talks have "advanced enormously", echoing comments from Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi earlier Friday. Economists had counted on a 4.8 percent minus.

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The governments of the world's two largest economies have been locked in a tit-for-tat tariff battle for months as Washington presses Beijing to address long-standing concerns over Chinese practices and policies around industrial subsidies, technology transfers, market access and intellectual property rights.

Trump has promised a month-end summit with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, held in the luxurious confines of his Mar-a-Lago club in south Florida, to finalize a deal that would ease tariffs and boost Chinese purchases of United States goods. Imports fell by 5.2 percent, with a decrease of 1.4 percent in average.

In the same period, exports to the 28-nation European Union rose 2.4 per cent from a year earlier to USD64.7 billion.

Actual growth last year slowed to 6.6 percent, and is expected to cool further to 6.2 percent this year.

On March 6, the US reported its goods trade deficit with China surged to an all-time high past year, underlining one of the key sticking points.

While growing hopes of a deal have underpinned global markets in recent weeks, The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that Chinese officials would not commit to a presidential summit until the two countries have a firm deal in hand.

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