Cars wait for shipping overseas at Lianyungang Port on February 14, 2019 in Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province of China.
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China posted a big miss in its overall trade surplus for April, which came in at $13.84 billion, customs data on Wednesday showed. That was far lower than the $35 billion economists polled by Reuters had expected, and below the $32.65 billion posted in March.
Dollar-denominated exports also missed expectations in April, falling 2.7 percent from a year ago, according to data from the China’s General Administration of Customs. Economists polled by Reuters expected an increase of 2.3 percent from a year earlier.
April imports, meanwhile, rose unexpectedly by 4 percent from a year ago, compared to a decline of 3.6 percent that economists expected. Imports in March fell 7.6 percent.
The data released on Wednesday came as the trade impasse between the U.S. and China continues to drag on, and as Washington threatens to up tariffs on more Chinese imports at the end of the week.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told reporters that the U.S. will increase levies on Chinese imports on Friday.
His comments came after U.S. President Donald Trump’s tweeted that current tariffs of 10% on $200 billion of Chinese goods would be raised to 25% on Friday. Trump also threatened to impose an extra 25% levy on another $325 billion of Chinese goods “shortly.”
The latest developments sent markets across the globe reeling, amid earlier indications and optimism that the U.S. and China were close to ending their protracted trade war. Just last month, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told The New York Times that negotiations were in the “final laps. “
— CNBC’s Eustance Huang and Reuters contributed to the report.