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China says its trade surplus last year was $351.76 billion — the lowest since 2013

Photo: AP

China's exports in the whole of 2018 rose 9.9 percent from 2017 while imports rose 15.8 percent over the same period, official dollar-denominated data showed on Monday.

Even though export growth was the highest since 2011, China's trade surplus for 2018 was the lowest since 2013, according to Reuters' records. China's overall trade surplus from 2018 was $351.76 billion.

Economic data from the world's second-largest economy are being closely watched for signs of damage inflicted by the trade war between Washington and Beijing.

While official data indicated China's economy held up for much of last year, it now appears to be slowing as production metrics and export orders fall as the country's trade dispute with the U.S., its largest trading partner, drags on.

Beyond the tariffs battle, China's economy has been facing its own domestic headwinds. Even before U.S. President Donald Trump kicked off the latest escalation in trade tensions, Beijing was already trying to manage a slowdown in its economy after decades of breakneck growth.

Both sides have been trying to negotiate a deal, with the latest round of talks between Chinese and U.S. officials concluding last Wednesday.

China's Commerce Ministry said last Thursday that the talks were extensive and established a foundation for the resolution of each others' concerns.

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