China logs record trade surplus with United States in 2018

Trade war's wounded: Companies improvise to dodge cost hikes

Chinese exports and imports fell last month, indicating U.S. tariffs are beginning to impact the world's number two economy.

China's foreign trade increased 12.6 percent past year to a record $4.62 trillion, a spokesman for the General Administration of Customs, Li Kuiwen, said on Monday. However, in a sign that the White House's measures are having an impact, China's exports to the United States sank last month.

The country's commerce minister told state media on Friday that China will work to straighten out trade frictions with the USA this year. Imports slumped 7.6 per cent and exports fell 4.4 per cent.

"Private enterprises contributed more than half to China's foreign trade growth in 2018, a bright spot of China's foreign trade development", said the spokesman. Since it began preparing for the winter early in 2018, total natural gas imports for previous year soared by nearly 32 percent from 2017 to 90.39 million tons, solidifying China's position as the world's biggest importer of the fuel.

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But a slew of bad economic data has added to concerns about China's economy, which is expected to have eased to around 6.5 percent growth in 2018, down from 6.9 percent in 2017.

Chinese exporters also face pressure from cooling consumer demand in other global markets.

Last year's trade surplus was $352 billion, the figures showed.

Official data showed the manufacturing sector contracted in December for the first time in more than two years.

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