China's foreign trade up 8.9 pct in first four months

President Donald Trump    Mark Wilson  Getty Images

Xi's top economic adviser, Liu He, who headed the Chinese side during the Beijing talks, is expected to visit Washington for the meetings next week, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday.

China's surplus with the United States widened in April, underlining an imbalance between the economic titans as they struggle to reach an agreement on averting a potentially damaging trade war.

China's goods trade rose 8.9 percent year-on-year to 9.11 trillion yuan (about 1.43 trillion US dollars) in the first four months of this year, customs data showed Tuesday.

At the same time, imports growth accelerated to 21.5% from 14.4% in the previous month.

"The US and China asked one another to make sweeping concessions but failed to bridge divisions, raising the chances that each government will slap tariffs on tens of billions of dollars of the other country's exports", the daily reported.

The Trump administration has drawn a hard line, demanding a US$200 billion (S$268 billion) cut in the Chinese trade surplus with the USA, sharply lower tariffs and advanced technology subsidies.

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"The president has a great relationship with President Xi", Sanders said. And we are working on something that we think will be great for everybody. President Donald Trump's demands that China slash its surplus with the US have become a cornerstone of his combative economic policy.

China responded with threats of US exports to China in an equal amount and targeting industries that may cause the most impact. Last year's merchandise trade surplus totalled $375 billion, according to USA data, while Chinese statistics put it at about $276 billion.

China's foreign ministry called the White House statement a "positive signal".

Among the list of hard-line demands that Trump's delegation handed China last week was an ultimatum to cut $200 billion from its annual trade surplus with the U.S.by 2020.

The figures Tuesday will likely reinforce Washington's determination after high-level talks in Beijing last week ended with both sides admitting there were big differences to overcome, with threats of tariffs on billions of dollars of goods casting a shadow.

A Reuters report citing sources said China had offered to buy more United States goods and lower tariffs on some goods, including cars.

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