US imports to China plunge amid trade war

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U.S. exports to China dropped sharply last month as the Trump administration and Beijing appear no closer to reaching a deal to end a months-long trade war that has affected billions of dollars’ worth of goods.

The Associated Press reported Friday that Chinese imports from the U.S. were down 31.4 percent from the same time last year, while the country’s surplus from trade with the U.S. grew by 3 percent. U.S. imports from China dropped by a far lower rate — down just 7.8 percent over last year.

Experts remain pessimistic, according to the news service, convinced that Trump’s talks with China could break down again, extending the trade conflict for months.

“Our base case remains that trade talks will break down again before long,” economist Julian Evans-Pritchard said, according to the AP.

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In a tweet Thursday, the president slammed China’s lack of imports from the U.S., accusing Beijing of going back on promises to cut down on China’s trade surplus with the U.S. by buying more American goods.

“Mexico is doing great at the Border, but China is letting us down in that they have not been buying the agricultural products from our great Farmers that they said they would. Hopefully they will start soon!” he tweeted.

China’s government has worked to halt U.S. exports recently in particular areas designed to hurt the president’s relationship with his base, especially in the midwest. U.S. soy exports to China were halted in May, and in April clamped down on imports of U.S. grains such as sorghum.

Trump denied that the U.S. was in a trade war with China in April, even as the administration has moved subsequently to increase tariffs on Chinese imports while Beijing responded in a similar manner.

“We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S. Now we have a Trade Deficit of $500 Billion a year, with Intellectual Property Theft of another $300 Billion. We cannot let this continue!” Trump tweeted in early April.