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Chinese Exports Rebound in March, Restoring Trade Surplus

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The value of Chinese exports exceeded expectations in March, resulting in a 16.4 percent increase year on year in dollars.

The spike restores the country’s trade surplus after it experienced a deficit for the first time since 2014 in February. And it represents the most rapid rate of growth in more than two years, according to Reuters.

China’s General Administration of Customs released the results today, saying the numbers were a sign that the global economy is improving.

Economists polled by Bloomberg had predicted imports would increase by only 4.3 percent in March after they fell by by 1.3 percent in February.

Imports were up by 20.3 percent this March over the same period last year, a pace that exceeded predictions of 15.5 percent growth but fell below February’s robust 38.1 percent results.

The trade surplus for the month was $23.9 billion, dwarfing the $12.5-billion forecast.

The positive turn comes after U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping had a cordial 2-day meeting last week. Since those talks, Trump has softened his stance toward the country, saying he would not seek to label it a currency manipulator, as he’d threatened to do from the campaign trail.

Trump is looking to China to use its position as North Korea’s largest trade partner to help rein in that nation as it continues to try to build a nuclear arsenal.

In a Tweet on Tuesday, Trump said, “I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!”

Though relations between the U.S. and China seem more stable for now, the country still boasts a hefty trade surplus with the U.S.—a fact that the President has long railed against. It was also a central point of discussion between Trump and Xi’s meeting and subsequent 100-day plan to address trade imbalances.

China’s trade surplus for the quarter with the U.S. hit $49.6 billion, down slightly from $50.57 billion during the same period last year. Exports to the U.S. rose 19.7 percent in March compared to March 2016, while imports from the U.S. increased by 15.1 percent.

China will report its full first quarter results later this month. Economists polled by Reuters expect growth to be a solid 6.8 percent for the quarter but possibly sputtering in later months.

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