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MNI (Singapore)
     BEIJING (MNI) - China's General Administration of Customs will release
March trade statistics on Friday. March's trade performance will be of
particular significance given it's the last month of the first quarter and that
President Donald Trump has threatened to drag China into a trade war. 
     Below are five things we may look for in the new trade data:
     - Growth of exports in March may slow from 44.6% y/y in February, which was
the highest in three years, to 10.0%, according to a survey of 18 economists
conducted by MNI. The U.S. will likely rank as the biggest buying nation of
Chinese goods as it has always been, but given the escalating trade tensions
with the U.S., China may step up effort to secure new partners.                 
     - March imports may increase by 12.0% y/y, faster than 6.3% growth in
February, according to MNI survey. Different from the exports, the top source of
purchases from China is not the U.S. but the ASEAN (Association of Southeast
Asian Nations), as seen in February's statistics. The ASEAN nations are
increasingly benefiting from China's Belt and Road initiative, which gives
companies incentives to do business along the targeted regions.                 
     - Trade between China and the U.S. has been stable since December 2016,
when the EU replaced the U.S. as China's biggest trading partner. Responding to
President Trump's planned tariffs, exporters and importers may speed up their
transactions during the 60-day waiting period to avoid risks of tariffs getting
implemented. Therefore there might be a bump in trade volumes of certain
products.                                                                       
     - The additional tariffs, if carried out, will hurt both China and the
U.S., although the U.S. may feel more impact. The $50 billion worth of goods
floated initially by Trump accounts for about a third of U.S. exports to China
but 12% of Chinese exports to the U.S. China may also seek other importers to
absorb its exports of the affected goods, but the U.S. may have more difficulty
finding customers for its sales of farm goods, for example.                
     - China may keep the sound momentum of trade. Major products including
mechanical products and labor-intensive goods such as textiles will likely see a
fast increase. General trade, relative to service and processing trade, will
still account more than half of the total trade.
--MNI Beijing Bureau; tel: +86 (10) 8532-5998; email: flora.guo@marketnews.com
--MNI Beijing Bureau; +86 10 8532 5998; email: william.bi@mni-news.com
[TOPICS: M$A$$$,M$Q$$$,MI$$$$]

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