China’s 2018 trade surplus with the United States surged to a record $323.3 billion, but exports contracted in December as the delayed impact of President Donald Trump’s tariff hikes started to hurt demand.
Exports to the United States in 2018 rose 11.3 percent to $478.4 billion despite Trump’s punitive duties in a fight over Chinese technology ambitions, China’s customs data showed Monday.
Imports of American goods rose just 0.7 percent over 2017, reflecting Beijing’s retaliatory tariffs and encouragement to importers to buy more from non-US suppliers.
In December, Chinese exports to the United States that had held up through much of the year fell 3.5 percent from a year earlier to $40.3 billion.
Sales to the US market had kept growing by double digits in previous months as Chinese exporters rushed to fill orders. But forecasters said American orders would slump once the full impact of Trump’s penalties hit.
“Export growth has slowed down…