China's resilient commodity imports contrast with weak exports - Russell

China's February exports plummeted 20.7 percent from the same period a year prior, and imports dropped 5.2 percent from a year earlier, considerably more than expected.

The sluggish start to the year is a stark reminder for US and Chinese negotiators how much is at stake for the global economy as they try to cool their trade war.

"Today's trade figures reinforce our view that China's trade recession has started to emerge", said Raymond Yeung of ANZ bank in a note.

On Wednesday, the 6th of March 2019, the US Commerce Department had said that there had been a 12.4 percent jump in the deficit in last December, which had potentially contributed to a record $891.3 billion trade deficit over the last month of the final quarter in 2018.

The Journal, citing people familiar with China's thinking, also reported that after Trump's failed meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last month, Beijing officials won't commit to a summit until they are sure of a deal.

On Friday, however, Trump's ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, told The Wall Street Journal in an interview that no date has been set for a trade summit in Florida since talks are still continuing between U.S. and Chinese negotiators.

But they noted that export momentum on a three-month basis has moderated significantly since the third quarter past year and said "growth is likely to remain soft in the near future".

Willems said the two countries had made progress in talks but that there was still much more to be done.

The fall in exports was far bigger than the 4.8% drop forecast in a Reuters poll of economists.

During the first two months, China's foreign trade amounted to 622.72 billion US dollars, down 3.9 percent year on year.

Last month the US President had said that he and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are planning to meet at his Florida resort in Mar-a-Lago to give a final shape to the trade deal, which is being negotiated between the two countries for past several months now.

On March 6, the USA reported its goods trade deficit with China surged to an all-time high previous year, underlining one of the key sticking points.

On a month-on-month basis, Taiwan's exports fell 25.3 percent and imports were down 41.4 percent in February, the MOF data shows.

The country's global trade surplus was USD43.7 billion.

Imports from Japan sank 19.3 percent in February compared with a month earlier, Chinese customs data showed.

"It is historic, it is written down, it was agreed to by the Chinese who were here two weeks ago, but it has to pass through the political filter of President Xi and the politburo", Kudlow said.

  • Eleanor Harrison