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China March new loans rise to 1.12 trln yuan but miss forecasts

14 April 2018

The latest readings on the health of China's trade sector follow weeks of tit-for-tat tariff threats by Washington and Beijing, sparked by U.S. frustration with China's massive bilateral trade surplus and intellectual property policies, that have fueled fears of a global trade war.

In a move to further force China to lower the billions of goods trade surplus running with the US, Trump unveiled tariff representing about $50 billion of technology, transport and medical products early this month, drawing an immediate threat of retaliatory action from Beijing.

China's exports growth unexpectedly fell in March, the first drop since February a year ago, raising questions about the health of one of the economy's key growth drivers even as trade tensions rapidly escalate with the United States.

"We don't strive for a favourable balance of trade (for China), the current state of trade affairs are shaped by the market", he told a briefing in Beijing.

The statistical authority also said the the top export market for the European Union with exports amounting to €61.7 billion ($75.9 billion), accounting for 20.58 percent of the 28 countries' exports in January and February.

Concerns of a trade war have been rumbling since last month after Trump threatened a series of tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese goods, sparking tit-for-tat warnings from Beijing.

Washington says China's $375 billion trade surplus with the United States is unacceptable, and has demanded Beijing reduce it by $100 billion immediately.

"We are pleased to stand together with this broad range of industries in order to demonstrate our shared concerns to Congress and the Trump administration over the possible imposition of tariffs that are already having a negative impact on our members", said Bill Hanvey, president and CEO of the Auto Care Association.

He reiterated that China does not want a trade war, saying "this trade friction is not conducive to China's interests, nor is it conducive to the interests of the US".

"'Now we're really negotiating and I think they're going to treat us really fairly", Trump said.

Xi, who now rules the world's second-largest economy without term limits, formally declared the new plans on Friday, Chinese state radio reported.

Mr Xi had pledged a "new phase of opening up" on Tuesday in a keynote address to the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan.

Mr Trump clearly regarded the remarks as conciliatory, and said again on Thursday that it was a "good speech".