Timely or well-timed but the release of China's trade balance just as US President Trump lands in the Middle Kingdom should help partly assuage Donald's displeasure with the US-China trade imbalance.
China's trade surplus contracted sharply to US$38.2 billion in October from US$48.4 billion in the same month last year. This is less than market expectations for a US$39.5 billion outcome as growth in imports (up 17.2% in the year to October) outpaced the 6.9% increase in exports.
More important for Sino-US bilateral trade relations, the surplus with America narrowed to US$26.6 billion in October from September's record high US$28.1 billion surplus, although the year-on-year growth in exports to the US (8.3%) outpaced that of imports (4.3%).
It's different with Australia. Its biggest export market continues to play the role of a supportive big brother.
China buys more from Australia than it sells. The latest report shows the China-Australia trade balance remained in deficit to the tune of US$4.2 billion in October, up from the US$3.1 billion deficit recorded in the same month in 2016. Shipments to Australia increased by 14.8% in the year to October while imports jumped by 24.6 over the same period.
This comes despite the reduction in Chinese imports of iron ore and coal - Australia's top commodity exports - as Beijing proceeds with its on-going efforts to reduce over-capacity and improving the country's air quality, among others.
China's iron ore imports declined to 79.5 million tonnes in October from September's record high purchase of 103.0 million tonnes. Similarly, China bought less coal in October - 21.3 million tonnes compared with 27.1 million tonnes imported in the previous month.
Apart from the US, China also enjoys a trade surplus with the European Union (US$11.3 billion in October) and the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam - (US$3.7 billion in October).
China recorded trade deficits with Taiwan (US$10.4 billion in October), South Korea (US$7.0 billion) and Japan (US$2.0 billion).