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US Trade Gap Hits 5-Year High

US President Donald Trump may use the Bureau of Economic Analysis data to single out the countries he would want to build protectionist barriers against

China's sales overseas weakened more than expected in February but economists were wary of reading too much into the numbers due to the distortions around the Chinese Lunar New Year, while imports surged - reflecting strong domestic demand.

BEIJING-China's exports rose 4.2% in February from a year earlier in yuan terms, following a 15.9% increase in January, official data showed Wednesday.

That left the country with a trade deficit of $9.15 billion (8.66 billion euros) for the month, the administration said on its website.

During the election campaign a year ago US President Donald Trump identified reducing the trade deficit with China as a vital part of his economic policies. Mr. Trump blames USA trade policy for the loss of American factory jobs and the import-driven surge in the trade gap could intensify the debate on a cross-border tax. In the same period previous year, China had a surplus of 180.5 billion yuan. "We expect China to move back to a trade surplus in the coming months".

On top of that we had the disruptions caused by China's Lunar New Year holiday which fell in January this year against early February in 2016.

Andrew Hunter, U.S. Economist at Capital Economics, said net trade appears on course to be a drag on GDP again in the first quarter after subtracting 1.7 percentage points from fourth quarter GDP growth.

Goods imported from China increased 5.1 per cent to US$41.4 billion in January, while those from Japan tumbled 13.9 per cent to US$10.5 billion. The U.S. trade deficit widened to the largest in nearly five years in January.

Exports of goods and services climbed 0.6 per cent to US$192.1 billion, the highest level since December 2014.

The data comes after China slapped a surprise ban in mid-February on imports from North Korea, the country's main supplier of anthracite coal.

China's new commerce minister Zhong Shan said the growth pattern in China's foreign trade would be adjusted from simply expanding the volume to improving structure and quality, pledging more effort to reinforce China's role as a big trading nation and push for its increasing trade prowess.