China consumes half the world's copper, and trade data released on Friday showed the country's imports of unwrought copper fell by more than a third in February at 311,000 tonnes from a bumper 479,000 tonnes last month.
Exports dipped 20.7 percent year on year to 135.24 billion US dollars last month, while imports decreased 5.2 percent to 131.12 billion USA dollars, the General Administration of Customs said. Experts attribute the bounce back to companies rushing orders before the Lunar New Year holiday in China.
Exports dropped 20.7 percent in February, the biggest plunge since February 2016.
Kudlow told CNBC earlier on Friday that negotiations between USA and Chinese officials have been progressing via video-conference and telephone since the last round of face-to-face talks in Washington two weeks ago, when Trump indefinitely extended a tariff truce. Premier Li Keqiang, the top economic official, warned this week China faces a "graver and more complicated environment".
Imports of copper concentrate continued to rise sharply, up 25% from a year ago to 1.93m tonnes last month.
Trump imposed tariff hikes of up to 25 per cent on United States dollars 250 billion of Chinese goods. But they started to slide in last December once the full impact of the penalties hit.
Both exports and imports should pick up somewhat later this year, said Wang Tao, chief China economist at UBS Group AG in Hong Kong.More news: Russell Westbrook, Enes Kanter Share Moment Before Thunder-Blazers Game
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"We're talking to them (Chinese officials) every day, but no one's got any trip plans", Willems told reporters on the sidelines of a Georgetown Law School trade event in Washington.
A truce with Trump would help exports, but "tensions on technology and China's industrial policy are unlikely to subside any time soon", Kuijs said.
Chinese imports of American goods in January and February plummeted 35.1 per cent to USD17.2 billion, depressed by Beijing's retaliatory tariffs and encouragement to importers to buy more from non-US suppliers.
He also lowered the government's goal for economic growth to a range of 6 to 6.5 percent for 2019, down from about 6.5 percent previous year. China's trade surplus with Europe was USD21.9 billion.
February's slump follows January's unexpected rebound.
China's slowdown and the trade war are having an increasing impact on other trade-reliant countries and businesses worldwide. While a preliminary agreement had been struck between USA and Chinese teams during the last round of talks last month, it has not yet received final sign-off by either country's leader.