China's foreign trade volume registered hefty growth of 9.4 percent year-on-year to 6.75 trillion yuan (.07 trillion) in the first quarter of the year, buoyed by the steady recovery of the global economy and solid domestic demand, a customs spokesman said on Friday.
The country's exports increased by 7.4 percent year-on-year to 3.54 trillion yuan in the first three months, while imports surged by 11.7 percent to 3.21 trillion yuan, Huang Songping, spokesman for the General Administration of Customs, said at a news conference.
China's trade performance has gotten off to a strong start this year, thanks to the stable recovery of the world economy, sustained demand in the domestic market and advancement of the Belt and Road Initiative, Huang said.
However, uncertainties in the international environment and rising protectionism pose challenges to the stable growth of the global economy and trade in the next quarter, Huang added.
The sudden spike in trade tensions between China and the United States has clouded the outlook for trade growth.
The World Trade Organization said on Thursday that global merchandise trade volume would grow by 4.4 percent this year, after posting its largest increase in six years in 2017. But the report also pointed out that there are signs that escalating trade tensions may already be affecting business confidence and investment decisions, which could compromise the current outlook.
"The tit-for-tat trade tensions between China and the U.S. could not only undermine the two countries' trade volume, but also add a drag to global economic growth," Deng Haiqing, chief economist with JZ Securities, said in a research note.
Sino-U.S. trade volume exceeded 1.59 billion between January and March, an increase of 13 percent year-on-year. Specifically, China's exports to the U.S. jumped by 14.8 percent and imports from the U.S. rose by 8.9 percent, resulting in a trade surplus of .25 billion.
Huang reiterated that the China-U.S. trade imbalance was determined by the two countries' economic structure and industrial competitiveness. "If we take into account the factors such as statistical method, transit trade and trade in service, China's trade surplus with the U.S. is actually not that big," Huang added.
He said China has never deliberately pursued a trade surplus.
In March, China's exports denominated in yuan shrank by 9.8 percent year-on-year, while imports surged by 5.9 percent, leading to a trade deficit of 29.78 billion yuan in that month, the customs administration figures show. China's trade surplus stood at 326.18 billion yuan in the first quarter, a decline of 21.8 percent from the same period last year.
Huang called on the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump to listen patiently to rational and pragmatic voices on such issues, and to propose constructive measures to solve disputes and get the bilateral trade relations back on track.