China optimistic negotiators will agree on mutually beneficial deal with US

5 2018 shows containers at the Lianyungang Port in Lianyungang City east China's Jiangsu Province

The drop comes after a surge in shipments of goods to the United States before Washington raised tariffs against Beijing. Citing a possibility to experience a recurrence of such corpulent volume of trade deficit again in 2019, a chief economist at MUFG in New York, Chris Rupkey said, "The trade deficit exploded a year ago despite the Trump administration efforts to make America great again, and the trend is unlikely to get any better in 2019".

Negotiations are "moving along very nicely", Kudlow said.

Washington and Beijing past year exchanged punitive tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way trade but have recently indicated they are close to coming to terms.

He added that Beijing's top economic official Liu He and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer held talks over a packed lunch of burgers and eggplant stir-fried with chicken - a common Chinese dish - in Washington last month.

Washington is demanding deep structural changes, including to how Beijing treats foreign investors and its own state-owned enterprises, and the deal is expected to require commitments on the Chinese currency and protections for American technology.

U.S President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that trade talks were moving along well and predicted either a "good deal" or no deal between the world's two largest economies.

During the Jan-Feb period, China's trade with the European Union, ASEAN countries, and Japan increased 8.9 percent, 1.9 percent and 4 percent, respectively, while trade with countries along the Belt and Road registered faster-than-average growth, with the combined trade volume standing at 1.28 trillion yuan (about 191 billion USA dollars), up 2.4 percent year on year.

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Willems said the two countries had made progress in talks but that there was still much more to be done.

The collapse of the second summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may also have increased the perceived risk of Xi making a trip to Florida for a 'signing ceremony.' An event with the same title had been penciled into Trump's official schedule on his visit to Hanoi to meet with Kim.

"I don't want to hang a timetable on this", Kudlow said. I think we're doing well ...

But there have been conflicting comments from Washington and Beijing on the negotiations.

"Looking ahead, we find little reason to expect a rebound in the near term on the back of a sluggish global electronics cycle", said Yeung.

"When you ask about the prospects for the next Sino-US economic and trade consultation, I feel that there is hope", Vice Minister for Commerce Wang Shouwen told journalists at a press briefing on the sidelines of China's National People's Congress. 'Both sides agree that there has to be significant progress, meaning a feeling that they're very close before that happens'.

"We're not there yet".