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Chinese and U.S. flags are set up for a meeting during a visit by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao at China's Ministry of Transport in Beijing, China April 27, 2018.

Exports jumped 12.9% last month from a year earlier, after falling 2.7% in March, the General Administration of Customs said Tuesday.

The visit by vice-premier Liu He - considered President Xi Jinping's right-hand man on economic issues - comes after he led talks in Beijing last week with a high-level U.S. delegation that made little headway in resolving the standoff. "The backdrop of the ongoing trade negotiations between China and the United States is one in which global growth has already peaked and China's export performance is waning as a result".

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"We are working on something that we think will be great for everybody", she told reporters.

The country's surplus with the USA expanded to $22.19B - compared with a surplus of $15.43B in March.

On Tuesday, China called for U.S. trade talks to be conducted on an equal footing, as Beijing's top economic official is due in Washington next week for more discussions on a dispute that could trigger tariffs on billions of dollars of goods this month. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy Larry Kudlow, and Assistant to the President for Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro were all on the trip.

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Imports surged 21.5% from a year earlier, compared with a 14.4% increase in March. For January-April, it rose to US$80.4 billion, compared with about US$71 billion in the same period a year ago.

Among the list of hard-line demands that President Donald Trump's delegation handed China last week was an ultimatum to cut $200 billion from its annual trade surplus with the U.S.by 2020.

Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on as much as Dollars 150 billion in Chinese goods, duties that can be imposed after a public comment period ends on May 22. China's communist leaders have countered by outlining $50 billion in USA goods that they would target with retaliatory duties.

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