Trump administration has no China travel plans for trade talks

Trump administration has no China travel plans for trade talks”

The never-ending saga of US-China trade talks trudged on this week, again dominated by one theme: uncertainty.

The economic superpowers have been locked in a trade battle since last summer, striking out with steep tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way trade, which is beginning to sap economic growth and business confidence.

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

Optimism about a rapid resolution of the months-long US-China trade war was undercut by conflicting comments out of Washington and Beijing, sending global stock markets on a downward slide on Friday.

There's no date scheduled for Trump to meet President Xi Jinping to finalize an agreement, though a summit could take place later this month or next at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, said Kudlow, dialing back expectations that a deal is imminent.

China's total overseas shipments sank 20.7 percent year-on-year and imports fell 5.2 percent, much worse than the 5 percent and 0.6 percent drops forecast in a Bloomberg News poll.

Last year, the U.S. had recorded an overall trade deficit surge of 12.5 percent to $621.0 billion, the nation's largest deficit figure since 2008.

China's exports to the United States (US) plunged in January and February as President Donald Trump's punitive tariffs chilled demand, while sales to the rest of the world also weakened. While a preliminary agreement had been struck between USA and Chinese teams during the last round of talks last month, it has not yet received final sign-off by either country's leader.

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Trump postponed a sharp US tariff hike slated for early March as the talks progressed, but both Washington and Beijing have kept previous duties in place.

The two countries' working teams are communicating "day and night", Wang said.The trade talks have seen senior officials shuttling backwards and forwards between Beijing and Washington.

There is little point in looking at the February trade numbers in isolation, given the impact on trade flows caused by the timing of the Lunar New Year holidays.

The government is targeting economic growth of 6 to 6.5 percent in 2019, Premier Li Keqiang said at Tuesday's opening of the annual legislative session, a lower target than set for 2018.

Actual growth last year slowed to 6.6 percent, and is expected to cool further to 6.2 percent this year.

This is the weakest start to the year for Chinese trade since 2016, according to Capital Economics.

Imports and exports surged 21 percent year on year from mid-February, said Ni Yuefeng, head of the General Administration of Customs (GAC). Like China, Japan and South Korea, its hi-tech manufacturers are also being hurt by a global downturn in demand for electronics from memory chips to smartphones.

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