The Trump administration also wants Beijing to buy more American goods to narrow a yawning trade gap - a sticking point for U.S. president - and allow foreign players better access to the Chinese market.
Despite levies, exports to the United States grew 11.3 per cent past year.
Behind the strong foreign trade figures, China's shifting engines of economic growth are well told.
China's total trade surplus for 2018 was $351.76 billion stated the government.
For the full year, global exports rose 7.1 percent to $2.5 trillion, down from the 7.9 percent rate for 2017.
"The widened trade surplus in 2018 shows China and the USA are in different development stages and both are economically complementary", Li said.
China's USA trade surplus hit a record high of $323bn in 2018, the highest in more than a decade, according to figures released by the country's General Administration of Customs on January 14.
Asian shares and United States stock market futures fell as the surprisingly weak Chinese data added to fears of weaker corporate profits and investment, while the yuan currency gave up some of its early gains. It has been noted recently that Chinese imports of higher or more advanced tech declined 14.9 percent in December which was nearly double the size of the fall in overall trade.More news: Battling Murray crashes out as Federer cruises
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The dismal December trade readings suggest China's economy may have cooled faster than expected late in the year, despite a slew of growth-boosting measures in recent months ranging from higher infrastructure spending to tax cuts.
"China effectively tackled changes of the external environment previous year, and the foreign trade maintained stable and positive growth, reaching a historic high in import and export volume", the customs spokesperson, Li Kuiwen, on Monday.
Chinese officials said the next round of negotiations would be held in Washington between January 30 and 31.
China's politically-sensitive surplus with the USA widened by 17.2 per cent to $323.32 billion a year ago, the highest on record going back to 2006, according to Reuters calculations based on customs data.
While the Chinese economy remained surprisingly resilient to these tariffs over the course of 2018, it appears the restrictions finally began to bite in December, driving United States exports down 3.5 percent and imports down a whopping 35.8 percent.
In December, China's global exports shrank 4.5 percent to $221.2 billion while imports declined 7.2 percent to $164.2 billion.
"Tariffs can't take all of the blame", Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at research firm Capital Economics, said in a note on Monday.