China's trade surplus with USA increases to $22.2B

Glen Norman
May 9, 2018

China's trade surplus with the United States clocked in at USD22 billion in April. The growing trade surplus comes at a time of escalating friction between Beijing and Washington over the imbalance.

The April surge in the US-China trade gap was partly the result of rebounding Chinese exports in April, rising 12.9 percent from a year earlier and bouncing back from a 2.7 percent drop in March. China responded with threats of US exports to China in an equal amount and targeting industries that may cause the most impact.

The meetings come after a series of tit-for-tat threats of tariffs on billions of dollars of goods sparked earlier this year by Donald Trump, who accuses China of using unfair practices to get an unfair advantage over U.S. exporters and costing American jobs.

Liu led the Chinese delegation that spent two days negotiating in Beijing last week with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and other senior U.S. officials.

"We believe this shows the U.S. wishes to reach a consensus with China on trade issues", ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press briefing.

Chinese President Xi Jinping's top economic adviser, Liu He, will visit Washington next week to continue discussions with President Donald Trump's economic team, the White House said Monday.

That left the country with a trade surplus of $28.78 billion for the month, customs data showed on Tuesday. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy Larry Kudlow, and Assistant to the President for Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro were all on the trip.

However, the Trump administration has drawn a hard line, demanding a US$200 billion cut in the Chinese trade surplus with the US by 2020, sharply lower tariffs and advanced technology subsidies, according to people familiar with the top-level US-China talks on Friday last week. That compared with 39.17 million tonnes in April past year. The high-level meetings are "constructive moves in the right direction" to resolve the tensions, she said.

However, China said "big differences" remained between the two sides after last week's talks while leaks of the negotiating positions showed both were digging in with hardline demands.

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