Chinese exports fall amid US tariffs, weak global demand

China's exports to the United States plunge amid tariff fight while weak global growth hurts sales elsewhere

BEIJING -- China's exports to the United States plunged in January and February as President Donald Trump's punitive tariffs chilled demand, while weakening global demand hurt sales to rest of the world.

Analysts usually look at the first two months of the year together to screen out the effect of the Lunar New Year holiday, when factories close for up to two weeks.

The decline in exports to the U.S. market represented an acceleration from December's 3.5 percent contraction. Sales to the United States had kept growing by double digits through most of 2018 despite tariff hikes that started in July. as exports rushed to fill orders. But they slumped once the full impact of the penalties hit.

That is the weakest start to the year for Chinese trade since 2016, according to Capital Economics.

Washington and Beijing say they are making progress in talks on ending their fight over Chinese technology policy. But forecasters say even if they reach an agreement, weakening global economic growth means this year's Chinese exports are likely to be lackluster.