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China 2019 Exports Increase Despite Trade Dispute With US

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China logged an increase in exports in 2019, despite a fall in shipments to the US amid trade disputes, official data showed on Tuesday.

Exports increased 0.5 percent in 2019, while imports fell 2.8 percent in dollar terms, the General Administration of Customs reported Tuesday. The trade surplus in 2019 was US$421.5 billion.

In yuan terms, overall exports advanced 5 percent and imports gained 1.6 percent in 2019. The trade surplus increased 25.4 percent to CNY 2.92 trillion.

Trade with the U.S. declined by nearly 11 percent in yuan terms in 2019.

The European Union remained China's top trading partner, while the ASEAN became the second largest partner pushing down the US to the third position.

After a long trade battle between the US and China, both sides reached the Phase 1 deal in December. For nearly 18 months, the US imposed tariffs on Chinese goods and China hit back with higher duties.

The phase 1 trade deal is likely to be signed this week and this has eased global trade tensions.

Further, data showed that exports grew by a more-than-expected 7.6 percent on a yearly basis in December, reversing a 1.3 percent drop in November. Economists had forecast a 2.9 percent rise.

This was the first increase since July and the strongest since March, when exports surged 14 percent.

At the same time, imports growth accelerated sharply to 16.3 percent from less than a 1 percent increase seen in November. This was also faster than the forecast of 9.6 percent.

Consequently, the trade surplus increased to $46.79 billion, exceeding forecast of $45.7 billion.

Julian Evans-Pritchard and Martin Rasmussen, economists at Capital Economics, said increases in exports and imports was largely due to base effects.

The economists noted that improvement in imports in December was the result of higher import prices rather than stronger volumes. As such, it would be premature to conclude that there has been a marked pick-up in domestic demand, they added.

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