The November headline trade numbers came out less than a week after Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping agreed to a 90-day truce delaying the planned January 1 U.S. hike of tariffs to 25 percent from 10 percent on $200 billion of Chinese goods while they negotiate a trade deal.
"Moderating global momentum, the stronger dollar and protectionist trade policies will keep weighing on exports in the near-term, while sturdy domestic demand and limited spare capacity keep import growth healthy - further widening the deficit", Jake McRobie and Gregory Daco, economists at Oxford Economics, said in a report.
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted about the potential for a deal with China, before warning that if a deal wasn't reached in 90 days he would slap more tariffs on China because he was "a Tariff Man".
"China talks are going very well!"
Shipments to the whole world in U.S. dollar terms rose 5.4 per cent in November, the customs administration said Saturday, missing estimates.
But growth of exports and imports slowed from October, with exports rising 5.4 per cent for November on-year, short of the 9.4 per cent forecast by Bloomberg News, and imports rising 3.0 per cent on-year, also below the forecast.
China has said it will import more United States products to reduce its trade surplus, but no dollar amount has been publicly discussed.
For trade with all countries, China's surplus was US$44.74 billion for November, compared with forecasts of US$34 billion and October's surplus of US$34.02 billion.
China's exports to the U.S. rose by 9.7 per cent year on year to US$46.2 billion in November, while imports dropped 25 per cent to US$10.6 billion, according to data published by the General Administration of Customs in China on Saturday.
But unease over the agreement has dented stocks this week with major United States indices falling more than two per cent to close the market's worst week since March and one that left both the Dow and the S&P 500 in negative territory for the year.
Trump added China would roll back tariffs of 40% on cars.
"China will immediately implement the consensus both sides already reached on agricultural products, energy, autos and other specific items", commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng said at a regular press briefing.
China's government said Thursday it will promptly carry out a tariff cease-fire with Washington and is confident they can reach a trade agreement, suggesting Beijing wants to avoid disruptions due to the arrest of a tech executive.