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China's global trade surplus fell 16.2% in 2018: customs

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China's global trade volume rose last year but its surplus fell again, as its imports outpaced its exports, official data released Monday showed.

[BEIJING] China's global trade volume rose last year but its surplus fell again, as its imports outpaced its exports, official data released Monday showed.

Total trade reached US$4.62 trillion, a 12.6 per cent rise from 2017, according to customs data.

But the trade surplus in the world's second largest economy fell 16.2 per cent to US$351.76 billion, as imports rose 15.8 per cent while exports gained 9.9 per cent.

"China's foreign trade has developed in a steady manner with progress witnessed, reaching a record high in import and export volume," said Li Kuiwen, spokesman for the customs administration.

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China's surplus with the US is a hot-button issue with the administration of US President Donald Trump, which slapped new import tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods last year.

Customs has not yet released information on US-China bilateral trade, but China's imports of soybeans fell by 7.9 per cent last year to 88 million tons.

Traditionally China imports vast quantities of American soybeans in the second half of the year - but the buying fell off after China hit US soybeans with a 25 per cent retaliatory import tariff this summer.

AFP