China Exports, Imports Up for First Time in Three Years

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Trade between China and Russian Federation was up 20.8 percent previous year, rising to $84 billion, according to figures released Friday by the Chinese customs authority.

Trade across the Taiwan Strait totaled 1.35 trillion yuan (US$208 billion) a year ago, a 14 percent annual increase, which made up 4.9 percent of China's external trade, the data from China's General Administration of Customs showed.

The European Union, US and ASEAN remain China's top three trade partners, representing almost 42 percent of the total volume, while trade with Russia, Poland and Kazakhstan saw rapid growth of between 20 and 40 percent due to the new Silk Road scheme. Indeed, China became the world's biggest global trader in 2013, but lost its position at the summit to the United States in 2016 following two hard years of difficulties.

Although exports are expected to hold up well, uncertainties remain due to potential escalation in trade frictions with the USA under President Donald Trump, after China's surplus against the country hit a new high in 2017, analysts suggested.

In December, China's imports from North Korea slumped 81.6 percent from a year ago, while exports to the reclusive nation fell 23.4 percent in the same period.

What's more, if China's economy slows this year as some experts predict, that could widen the trade deficit further.

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Gao Feng, a spokesman for China's Ministry of Commerce, said on Thursday that both countries should manage their differences through dialogue to prevent them from escalating into conflict.

The "continued strength of China's exports to the U.S.is bound to add to U.S".

ANZ analyst Betty Wang said that even though a broad-based bilateral trade war is "highly unlikely" in 2018, it is possible that the USA will take "unilateral actions on Chinese exports in specific sectors".

In 2016, China exported US$40.37 billion worth of goods to Taiwan while it imported US$139.2 billion, an annual decrease of 10.1 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively, the data showed.

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