China Imported Record Gas in December

Donald Trump's trade war hits Chinese exports

China December exports unexpectedly drop

While the Chinese economy remained surprisingly resilient to these tariffs over the course of 2018, it appears the restrictions finally began to bite in December, driving USA exports down 3.5 percent and imports down a whopping 35.8 percent.

President Donald Trump and his economic advisers focus on trade deficits when it comes to China, and Mr. Trump has said a trade war would be "easy to win".

However, in a sign that the White House's measures are having an impact, China's exports to the United States sank in december past year.

Imported vehicles are seen at a auto dealership in Tianjin bonded zone, China January 2, 2019. China wants to negotiate, Trump said.

Given Trump's frustration with China's huge trade gap with the United States, the latest data might fuel demands by hardliners in Washington to punish Beijing.

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

According to Chinese customs department data published January 14, the country imported 90.38mn metric tons of natural gas (pipeline and LNG) a year ago.

The on-going conflict between the USA and China over trade, together with a slowdown in China's domestic economy, has already begun to affect some USA companies that rely on China for parts and labour.

Exports growth in 2018 was the highest in 7 years, surging 9.9 percent while imports grew 15.8 percent compared with last year.

The higher tariffs China levied on U.S. supplies also hit the country's overall import growth. But China's 25 percent tariff on US cargoes remains in place.

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But the buying fell off previous year after China imposed a 25 percent retaliatory tariff on the commodity in the summer.

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. "Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics, told Reuters: "[China's] overall economic growth slowed further in the fourth quarter and remains under pressure from weaker exports, slow credit growth and cooling real estate activity". For all of 2018, soybeans, the second largest imports from the United States, fell for the first time since 2011.

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 per cent growth in 2018, down from 6.9 per cent in 2017.

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

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