China December Trade Slumps as Trade War, Economic Slowdown Bite

"December's trade data (released today) were soft, but the data for the preceding months were surprisingly strong and show exports to the U.S. growing at a decent pace, which may reflect producers trying to front run any future escalation in tariffs".

That compared with about $275.81-billion in 2017.

China's exports rose 9.9 percent in 2018, its strongest trade performance in seven years, despite growing disruptions from an escalating trade war with the United States, customs data showed on Monday.

China's imports of vegetable oils in December were 742,000 tonnes, up 21.6 percent from the previous month.

"Meanwhile, with policy easing unlikely to put a floor beneath domestic economic activity until the second half of this year, import growth is likely to remain subdued".

The two countries have hit each other with tit-for-tariffs on goods worth hundreds of billions of dollars. China has retaliated with tariffs of its own.

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The agency noted that a year ago Russian imports of Chinese goods increased by 12 percent to $47.98 billion.

According to China's customs administration, exports fell by 4.4 percent in December, while imports were at the lowest since 2016, the agency announced on Monday.

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.

"In 2019, the biggest worry for China's trade is due to complex and grim external environment", Li Kuiwen, spokesperson for General Administration of Customs, said during press conference.

With US tariffs in place, the gloomy export picture has reinforced the need for Beijing to rely on its legion of consumers to grow its economy.

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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