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China-US trade rises to 870.6 billion yuan in first quarter: China customs

A truck carrying shipping containers travels at a port in Qingdao, Shandong province, China, October 13, 2015. Photo: Reuters 

Trade between China and the US amounted to 870.6 billion yuan in the first quarter of 2017, up 21 percent year-on-year, a spokesman of China's General Administration of Customs said on Thursday.

In the first quarter, China's exports to the US increased 17 percent on year to 606.4 billion yuan, while imports from the US grew 33 percent to 264.2 billion yuan, Huang Songping said at a press conference, according to a statement published on the website of the State Council Information Office.

China's trade surplus with the US rose 6.7 percent year-on-year to 342.1 billion yuan in the first quarter, with the US accounting for 14 percent of China's total trade value over the period, according the Huang.

At the press conference, Huang said that China's trade surplus with the US should be viewed with calmness and objectivity, calling the trade imbalance between the two countries a "nominal trade surplus" because a large number of China's exports to the US are industrial products that foreign companies transfer and produce in China.

Huang also partly attributed the trade surplus to the US restrictions on exports of high technologies to China.

During their first meeting in Florida last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump agreed to a 100-day plan for trade talks that will boost US exports and reduce US trade deficit with China.

On Wednesday, US President Trump said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that his administration will not label China as a currency manipulator. The decision, which backs away from his campaign promise, is based on the judgment that China has not been manipulating the yuan for months, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Another reason behind President Trump's U-turn on the currency issue is that labeling China as a currency manipulator could jeopardize his talks with Beijing on confronting the threat from North Korea, according to the Wall Street Journal report.

At Thursday's news conference, Huang said that China had suspended imports of North Korea's coal, as a part of a United Nations Security Council resolution to punish the authoritarian country, whose missile tests and nuclear program have increased regional tensions.

In the first quarter, China imported 2.67 million tons of coal from North Korea, down 51.6 percent year-on-year, according to Huang.

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