China Dec copper imports fall 4.3 pct from mth before -Reuters calculations

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China saw its total import and export trade volume increase by 14.2 percent in 2017, ending two years of negative growth in the process.

Trade across the Taiwan Strait totaled 1.35 trillion yuan (US$208 billion) previous year, a 14 percent annual increase, which made up 4.9 percent of China's external trade, the data from China's General Administration of Customs showed.

Analysts at Nomura say continued global growth may offer support, while possible USA protectionism could weigh on exports.

The overall trade between the two countries for the year fell 10.5 percent compared to 2016.

China on Friday reported a sharp drop in trade with North Korea in 2017. Imports soared 15.9% to $1.84 trillion, the strongest increase in six years.

What's more, if China's economy slows this year as some experts predict, that could widen the trade deficit further.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly signaled tougher action on what he calls unfair practices that have lead to a massive trade deficit with China.

Meanwhile China in December exported a record high 6.17 million tonnes of refined fuel, beating the previous peak of 5.79 million tonnes set in November.

A day before, the Chinese Commerce Ministry's spokesman sounded a defensive note to reporters about China's trade and said that the "inevitable" frictions should be resolved through negotiation.

"The next stage is an open economy that focuses on a balance of trade", he said. The investigation, based on the rarely-used Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, could be a precursor to retaliatory US policies such as hefty tariffs on Chinese imports.

"Uncertainty surrounding Sino-U.S. trade ties might be a key potential downside risk in the near term", she wrote in a report.

However, Kujis of Oxford Economics believes import growth will only soften moderately this year, as the Chinese government has been careful not to let its tightening measures deal blows to the economy.

Arrivals for December came in at about 84.3 million tonnes, versus 94.54 million tonnes in November, according to Reuters' calculations based on annual data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

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