China's imports from N.Korea plummet in December, lowest for 4 years


Gas imports hit a new annual record, smashing the previous high by 20 percent, on the back of a massive gasification drive that gained momentum late in the year as temperatures in northern China dropped.

Chinese iron ore imports fell 11 percent in December from the previous month, but full-year shipments were at a record high, customs data showed on Friday, as the world's top consumer bought more imported raw material to ramp up steel output.

"Export prospects remain solid, given our outlook for growth globally, although more forceful US trade restrictions on China's exports remain a key risk, following another rise in the U.S.' bilateral trade deficit in 2017", he said.

But total trade surplus in 2017 registered a decline of 14.2 percent, from about $490 billion in 2016.

China's overall imports for the month missed market expectations, rising just 4.5 per cent year on year, while exports did better than expected, adding 10.9 per cent from a year earlier.

Foreign trade has become one of China's most dynamic and fastest-growing sectors, placing the country among the world's leading traders during the past decade.

Beijing has successfully fended off Trump's campaign rhetoric by making trade concessions, further opening up China's financial markets and signing US$250 billion worth of deals with the United States during the president's Beijing visit in November.

Washington has also launched the procedure for a probe into whether Chinese companies are stealing the intellectual property of US companies.

ANZ analyst Betty Wang said that even though a broad-based bilateral trade war is "highly unlikely" in 2018, it is possible that the USA will take "unilateral actions on Chinese exports in specific sectors". US figures put the 2015 deficit with China at $367 billion.

Gao Feng, a spokesman for China's Ministry of Commerce, said on Thursday that both countries should manage their differences through dialogue to prevent them from escalating into conflict.

China's trade figures don't match USA figures due to different calculation methods. That was down 12 percent from November's 9.01 million bpd, the second-highest level on record. Imports for the year jumped 16% to USD1.8 trillion, while exports rose 7.9% to almost USD2.3 trillion, the General Administration of Customs said. "In contrast, import growth slowed sharply, raising questions over the state of domestic demand", Julian Evans-Pritchard, an analyst with research firm Capital Economics in Singapore, said in a note.

China's December trade surplus with the USA was $25.55 billion, compared to $27.87 billion in November.