Despite the Trump administration’s efforts to curb the Chinese trade surplus with the U.S. by imposing tariffs on Chinese goods, trade between the two countries became even more lopsided in 2018. According to Chinese government data released today, the Chinese surplus grew by another 17 percent in the previous year. In total, the value of goods bought by Americans in China exceeded the value of Chinese buying American goods by US$323.3 billion.
A trade surplus in favor of China has existed since 1985 but has been growing more quickly in recent years. The newest jump does not necessarily mean that the Chinese economy is doing better than the American one. As growth in China has been slowing down, so has the willingness to acquire American goods. China barely increased its imports of U.S. goods by US$2 billion in 2018 compared to 2017 – which further added to the deficit.
Furthermore, Chinese analysts told the Wall Street Journal, 2018 had Chinese suppliers scramble to fill orders headed for the U.S. whenever new tariffs were looming, letting exports to the U.S. soar momentarily. In December, Chinese foreign exports actually slumped 4.4 percent - the biggest monthly loss since 2016.
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