California can lose most in trade dispute between US, China

Bytedance's news feed platform Toutiao is seen as its building in Beijing

The trade surplus with the United States contracted 13 percent from a year earlier, while China's global trade balance swung to a US$5 billion deficit.

Looking at the country-to-country trade balance, the 28-member European Union bloc recorded the highest surplus with the US - €21.3 billion ($26.2 billion) - and the largest deficit with China - €35.2 billion ($43.3 billion) - this January and February.

The latest readings on the health of China's trade sector follow weeks of tit-for-tat tariff threats by Washington and Beijing, sparked by USA frustration with China's massive bilateral trade surplus and intellectual property policies, that have fueled fears of a global trade war.

Exports contracted 2.7 percent from a year earlier to US$174.1 billion, down from the 24.4 percent growth for January and February, customs data showed yesterday.

March import growth of 14.4 percent beat expectations, however, suggesting China's domestic demand may still be solid enough to cushion the blow from any trade shocks.

At the Boao Forum, Xi pledged to further open China's economy and cut import tariffs this year.

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Concerns of a trade war have been rumbling since last month after Trump threatened a series of tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese goods, sparking tit-for-tat warnings from Beijing.

Outstanding yuan loans grew 12.8 percent from a year earlier, slower than an expected 12.9 percent rise and compared with a rise of 12.8 percent in February. Its imports from the USA rose 8.9 percent in the quarter and 3.2 percent in March. Shipments of copper, crude oil, iron ore and soybeans all rose from the previous month.

New Delhi is anxious that its exports of engineering goods and services to the US and China could be hit following a possible slowdown in global trade this year.

US President Donald Trump has approved a possible tariff hike on US$50 billion of Chinese goods in response to complaints that Beijing has been stealing or pressuring foreign companies to hand over technology.

China's tech sector, which is key part of Beijing's longer-term "Made in China 2025" strategy to move from cheap goods to higher-value manufacturing, may be particularly vulnerable. China exported US$137.8 billion worth of high-tech products in the first quarter, up 20.5% on-year.

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