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China's 2018 trade surplus shrinks 18.3% YOY

China's overall trade surplus for 2018 shrank year over year, though its trade surplus with the U.S. expanded as trade tensions between the two economic giants continue.

China booked a trade surplus of 2.33 trillion yuan for 2018, down 18.3% from a year ago, data from the country's General Administration of Customs showed. China's exports to other countries rose 7.1% year over year to 16.42 trillion yuan, while imports climbed 12.9% to 14.09 trillion yuan.

The trade surplus with the U.S. rose 14.7% on an annual basis to 2.14 trillion yuan. Exports to the country rose 8.6% to 3.16 trillion yuan and imports declined 2.3% to 1.02 trillion yuan.

For December 2018, China's trade surplus reached 394.99 billion yuan. Exports increased 0.2% year over year to 1.53 trillion yuan after a 10.2% annual increase in November 2018 Imports dropped 3.1% to 1.14 trillion yuan, following a 7.8% annual increase a month ago.

In U.S. dollar terms, China's exports in December 2018 dropped 4.4% from the year-ago period to $221.25 billion, compared with a 5.4% annual increase in November 2018. Imports fell 7.6% year over year to $164.19 billion after a 3% annual increase in the previous month.

The data comes as China and the U.S. try to resolve their trade dispute amid a 90-day truce, during which each party holds off on additional trade measures against the other until March. Chinese Vice Premier and top economic official Liu He is reportedly expected to visit Washington later in January to discuss bilateral trade, after recent talks in Beijing between U.S. and Chinese officials ended on a positive note but without a permanent deal.

Li Kuiwen, a spokesperson for China's customs agency, said the country's trade growth could slow in 2019 amid protectionism concerns, Reuters reported.

As of Jan. 11, US$1 was equivalent to 6.76 Chinese yuan.