China says it will carry out tariff cease-fire with US

Trump: 'very strong signals' that China is ready for a trade deal

Trump and figures in his administration have said China would immediately start buying United States goods in bulk, but Beijing has refrained from confirming those claims.

"China is full of confidence in reaching an agreement within the next 90 days", the spokesman said.

The ballooning trade deficit with China is a particularly sore point for Trump, who campaigned on turning around the situation.

November exports only rose 5.4 per cent from a year earlier, Chinese customs data showed on Saturday (Dec 8), the weakest performance since a 3 per cent contraction in March, and well short of the 10 per cent forecast in a Reuters poll.

American farmers have been hit particularly hard by the trade tensions.

The White House on Monday had to correct a statement by economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who incorrectly told reporters in a conference call that the 90-day negotiating period between the USA and China would begin on January 1 instead of December 1.

Usually Chinese buyers have snapped up American soybeans in the final months of the year as the harvest hits the market and beans from competitor Brazil dry up.

"Moderating global momentum, the stronger dollar and protectionist trade policies will keep weighing on exports in the near-term, while sturdy domestic demand and limited spare capacity keep import growth healthy - further widening the deficit", Jake McRobie and Gregory Daco, economists at Oxford Economics, said in a report.

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China's November trade surplus with the United States was a record US$35.55 billion. From August to October, the number increased by 30 percent.

The sagging export and import growth is another bad sign for China's economy, which grew at its slowest pace for nine years in the third quarter, expanding 6.5 per cent on-year for July-September.

Analysts say the export data showed that the "front-loading" impact as firms rushed out shipments to beat planned U.S. tariff hikes faded, and that export growth is likely to slow further as demand cools.

USA companies paid $6.2 billion in tariffs in October, including $2.8 billion in new tariffs on imports that have been imposed by the Trump administration, the group said on Friday.

China's government said Thursday it will promptly carry out a tariff cease-fire with Washington and is confident they can reach a trade agreement, suggesting Beijing wants to avoid disruptions due to the arrest of a tech executive.

Trump added China would roll back tariffs of 40% on cars.

Still, Beijing remains outwardly optimistic on prospects for a trade deal.

"China will immediately implement the consensus both sides already reached on agricultural products, energy, autos and other specific items", a commerce ministry spokesman, Gao Feng, said at a regular press briefing.

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