China's January exports rebound, imports decline


Trump said earlier the talks could help decide whether he escalates the fight over China's technology ambitions by going ahead with more penalty duties March 2 on $200 billion USA of Chinese goods.

He and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer opened the meetings shortly afterward at the Diaoyutai state guest house with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, the top economic adviser to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Trump said earlier this week that he could extend the March 1 deadline and that and he was looking forward to meeting Xi in the near future.

China's trade surplus with the U.S. narrowed in January even as its American imports plunged, buffeted by a slowing economy and the tariff battle with Washington, official data showed Thursday. Bloomberg News reported late Wednesday that he's considering pushing back the deadline by 60 days.

Chinese officials also are balking at USA pressure to accept a mechanism to monitor whether Beijing carries out its promises, said Kuijs.

Talks between USA and Chinese representatives in Beijing are believed to be progressing well as the two countries try to hammer out a last minute deal to end the tit-for-tat tariff battle.

Trump also imposed steep punitive tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, as well as other goods like solar panels and washing machines, in a bid to protect U.S. industry, which drew retaliation from American trading partners.

Negotiators have kicked off discussions in the Chinese capital aimed at defusing a row that has already triggered tariffs on billions of dollars' worth of exports and threatened to stymie global growth.

A meeting date between Trump and Xi has not been set and it is unlikely the pair can meet before the March 1 deadline.

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Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday that preliminary talks in Beijing were "going along very well", Bloomberg reported. "President Trump and President Xi sitting down face-to-face figuring that out and getting that final deal because they are the only two that will ultimately be able to nail that down".

Washington is demanding far-reaching changes to Chinese practices that it says are unfair, including theft of U.S. technology and intellectual property, and myriad barriers that foreign companies face in the Chinese domestic market.

Beijing has offered to boost its purchases of United States goods but is widely expected to resist calls for major changes to its industrial policies such as slashing government subsidies.

The Chinese government has offered few details about the state of negotiations this week.

Data released Thursday in China showed its trade surplus with the USA - a major source of anger within the Trump administration - narrowed in January to $27.3 billion, even as its American imports plunged 41 percent for the month from a year earlier.

The trade surplus with the United States declined to $27.3 billion from $29.87 billion in December, marking the second consecutive month of declines.

But multiple reports indicated little progress was made in the Chinese capital on thorny issues such as U.S. demands that Beijing stop requiring forced technology transfers by foreign firms as a condition of doing business in its market, and reduce subsidies that favour domestic companies. -China trade negotiations in Beijing.

January cargoes were the second-highest monthly total on record and on an annualized basis concentrate imports could exceed 22m tonnes in 2019, beating the record set past year of 19.7m tonnes.