China's trade surplus with USA surges, calls for patience

India's merchandise exports in March fell 0.7 percent year-on-year to $29.1 billion, and the trade deficit widened to $13.7 billion due to a surge in imports, government data showed on Friday.

India's merchandise exports fell for the first time in five months in March and the trade deficit widened amid concerns over global trade and US moves to review a programme allowing duty-free imports of goods.

The data follows weeks of tit-for-tat tariff threats by Washington and Beijing, sparked by US frustration with China's massive bilateral trade surplus and intellectual property policies, which have fueled fears of a global trade war.

The statistical authority also said the U.S.is the top export market for the European Union with exports amounting to €61.7 billion ($75.9 billion), accounting for 20.58 percent of the 28 countries' exports in January and February.

"The upshot is that the latest trade data suggest that both domestic and foreign demand held up well in March", Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said in a report.

For the first quarter as a whole, China's exports grew a hearty 14.1 percent from a year earlier.

Still, while no hard timeline has been set by either Washington or Beijing for the actual imposition of tariffs, analysts said China's exporters may already be adapting their strategies as punitive trade measures loom. Trump is demanding Beijing take steps to narrow its trade deficit with the USA, which Washington said stood at a record US$375.2 billion a year ago.

India's exports dipped after a gap of four months in March but finished 2017-18 with a healthy rise of 9.78% to $302.84 billion.

That left China with a rare trade deficit for the month, also the first drop since last February.

China's exports rode a global trade boom a year ago, expanding at the fastest pace since 2013 and serving as one of the key drivers behind the economy's forecast-beating expansion.

But the sudden spike in trade tensions with the United States is clouding the outlook for both China's "old economy" heavy industries and "new economy" tech firms alike. US President Donald Trump has threatened a series of tariffs on hund-reds of billions of dollars of Chinese goods, sparking tit-for-tat warnings from Beijing.

During Trump's first year in office the surplus reached record highs - $375 billion by U.S. counting, or $276 billion according to Chinese data.

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