(Bloomberg) -- China posted the strongest annual totals for export and imports on record last year, with the trade war temporarily boosting shipments as companies tried to avoid being hit by tariff hikes.

  • Exports rose by 9.9 percent in 2018 in dollar terms to $2.48 trillion, while imports surged 15.8 percent last year, leaving a trade surplus of $351.8 billion, the customs administration said Monday
  • The Customs Administration has not yet published data for December, which may display a slowdown

Key Insights

  • Negotiators from China and the U.S. expressed optimism after mid-level talks wrapped in Beijing last week, bringing some temporary relief to global investors. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is scheduled to visit the U.S. for the next round of talks in late January, but a pathway to a lasting resolution remains unclear
  • "While we don’t expect China and the U.S. to reach a grand deal before March 2019, we see 50 percent chance of some progress and further delays in additional tariffs," UBS economists Ning Zhang and WangTao wrote in a recent note. "That said, due to persistent threat of higher tariffs and other related uncertainties, the positive impact of further tariff delays on overall economic growth will be limited."

Get More

  • China’s policy makers have rolled out measures to support the domestic economy including more accommodative monetary and fiscal policies, as evidence mounts of the worsening slowdown
  • Stabilizing trade is one of the goals the leadership set for 2019, on top of supporting employment, investment and the finance sector

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Miao Han in Beijing at mhan22@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jeffrey Black at jblack25@bloomberg.net, James Mayger

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.