China's imports from N.Korea plummet in December, lowest for 4 years

Chinese trade picked up last year on the back of a strong global economy

China's trade surplus with the Unites States widened in 2017 while total foreign trade volume maintained rapid growth, customs data showed Friday.

A massive government push to heat millions of homes and power thousands of factories with natural gas in northern China has led to demand for the fuel outpacing supply, while delivery infrastructure has found it hard to cope.

"Export prospects remain solid, given our outlook for growth globally, although more forceful USA trade restrictions on China's exports remain a key risk, following another rise in the U.S.' bilateral trade deficit in 2017", he said.

China, the main source of North Korea's fuel, did not export any gasoline, jet fuel, diesel or fuel oil to its neighbour in November. "In contrast, import growth slowed sharply, raising questions over the state of domestic demand", Julian Evans-Pritchard, an analyst with research firm Capital Economics in Singapore, said in a note.

The penalties that came into force on September 5 previous year banned countries from buying coal, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood from North Korea.

December's crude oil imports hit 33.7 million tonnes, or about 7.94 million barrels per day (bpd).


By that data, last year's surplus is a record high, the wire service reported.

Declining oil output at home also contributed to the demand for overseas purchases.

In December, China's imports from North Korea slumped 81.6 percent from a year ago, while exports to the reclusive nation fell 23.4 percent in the same period.

In 2017, China's overall trade surplus came in at $422.5 billion (€350.8 billion), roughly $64 billion less than in the previous year.

Economists had expected China's trade surplus to have narrowed to $37 billion in December from November's $40.21 billion.

With the plan to heat millions of homes with the fuel proving overambitious, and leading to shortages, there was also a 3.2 percent month-on-month boost in coal imports in December after the government eased restrictions on imports to keep the country warm.

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