April 13, 2017 / 3:32 AM / in 6 months

China trade surplus with U.S. rises to $17.74 billion in March

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s trade surplus with the United States rose to $17.74 billion in March from $10.42 billion in February, customs data showed on Thursday.

A truck drives past container boxes at the Yangshan Deep Water Port, part of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, in Shanghai, China, February 13, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song

The customs data also showed China’s trade surplus with the United States in the first quarter was $49.6 billion, compared with $50.57 billion surplus a year ago.

President Donald Trump has focused on China’s large surplus with the United States, which was $347 billion last year, and pressed Chinese President Xi Jinping at a meeting last week to help reduce the gap.

The U.S. and China agreed at the meeting to a 100-day plan for trade talks aimed at boosting U.S. exports and reducing China’s trade surplus with the United States.

Trump administration officials have said they plan tougher enforcement of U.S. trade remedy laws and will initiate more unilateral trade deals.

China’s overall trade surplus totaled $23.93 billion in March as imports continued to rise, driven by strong demand for commodities from iron ore to crude oil and coal.

Analysts had expected China’s overall trade surplus to rise to $10 billion in March, after recording the first monthly deficit in three years in February.

Reporting by China bureau; Editing by Richard Borsuk

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