Trade gap rises to $56.6 billion, highest since 2008

Chinese President Xi Jinping's head-of-state diplomacy has not only increased the global community's understanding of China but also raised China's status and influence internationally, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday (March 8).

At a meeting on the sidelines of China's legislative session Wednesday, Mr. Xi's economic adviser, just back from his Washington trip, sought to deliver a reassuring message to a group of lawmakers that China and US will keep their communications going to ease trade tensions.

Asked how he views the present Indo-China relationship, Wang said, "Despite some tests and difficulties, the China-India relationship continues to grow".

Despite elements of competition, China-U.S. ties are defined more by partnership, not rivalry, he added.

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In the first month of the year, the United States trade gap rose five percent over an upward-revised December to $56.6 billion, its highest level since October of 2008, overshooting analyst expectations for only a two percent increase, according to the Commerce Department.

China warned the United States on Thursday that everyone will be harmed if President Donald Trump launches a trade war, as official figures showed the Asian power maintained a robust trade surplus with the US.

On Wednesday, at the World Trade Organization, China led a group of 18 members urging Trump to scrap the planned tariffs, with its representative saying the levies would pose a systemic threat to the rules-based global trading system.

On Thursday, China posted data showing that its monthly surplus with the USA narrowed slightly in February to just below $21 billion from $21.9 billion in January, even as its wider surplus with the world widened on a 44.5% surge in Chinese exports.

In the tweet, Trump mistakenly referred to a deficit where China runs a surplus. He blames persistent deficits on abusive practices by US trading partners and on bad trade deals that put American companies at a disadvantage or encourage them to move factories overseas.

Diplomatic and U.S. business sources say the United States has all but frozen a formal mechanism for talks on commercial disputes with China because it is not satisfied it has met its promises to ease market restrictions.

"Since 2012, President Xi Jinping has been the chief architect of China's major-country diplomacy".

According to data released by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis on Tuesday, January exports fell by US$2.7 billion over the previous month.

"On paper, China has more to lose from a trade war - it exports far more to the United States than it imports".

The deficit with China hit $36.0 billion, up by more than 16 percent. Its surplus with the USA makes up almost two thirds of China's overall trade imbalance.

February's surplus did edge downwards from the $21.9 billion recorded in January and $25.6 billion from December.

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