China's December imports growth weakest in a year, exports beat forecast

TOP NEWS: China Trade Cools As Imports Fall Short But Exports Rise 11%

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Specifically, China's exports to Taiwan were valued at 297.9 billion yuan in 2017, while its imports were 1.05 trillion yuan, an annual growth of 12.2 percent and 14.5 percent, respectively, the data indicated.

December gas imports, including pipeline imports and tanker shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG), came in at 7.89 million tonnes, 20 percent above November's previous record of 6.55 million tonnes, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

Huang Songping, a spokesman for the customs agency, said China would find it hard to maintain double-digit foreign trade growth this year.

China held a $275.9-billion trade surplus with the USA last year, up roughly 10% from 2016.

In December alone, China imported 7.9 million tonnes of natural gas with total value of 19.8 billion yuan (about 3 billion US dollars).

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"I think the slowdown is really mild - mostly in line with seasonality", said Victor You, an analyst with CLSA in Hong Kong, who tracks China's iron ore, coal, copper and copper concentrate imports, as well as its exports of steel products and aluminium.

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Huang Songping, a commerce ministry spokesman, said the numbers reflect the "mild recovery of the world economy past year".

"The next stage is an open economy that focuses on a balance of trade", he said.

Compared with a month earlier, exports fell 9.7 percent. Imports grew 4.5% year-on-year in the month to $177.1 billion, slowing from a rise of 17.7% in November and the lowest reading in a year, according to the customs data.

China's imports from North Korea plunged in December to their lowest level in dollar terms since at least the start of 2014, with trade curbed by United Nations sanctions aimed at persuading Pyongyang to abandon its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs.

However, Kujis of Oxford Economics believes import growth will only soften moderately this year, as the Chinese government has been careful not to let its tightening measures deal blows to the economy.

The drop contributed to an overall deceleration in China's imports and exports, which highlighted ebbing momentum in the world's second-largest economy.

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