efe-epaBeijing

China's trade surplus with the United States dropped by 23.2 percent since the start of a trade truce between the countries on Dec. 1, to stand at 188.4 billion yuan ($27.84 billion), according to China's General Administration of Customs on Thursday.

In Dec. 2018, the trade surplus had shrunk 15.5 percent from Nov. 2018.

It dropped by 9 percent between Dec. 2018 and Jan. 2019, according to a report that was posted on the agency's website.

US President Donald Trump has been insisting that China should reduce its trade surplus with the US, which has been a major trigger for last year's trade war between the two countries.

However, as compared to December's data, US imports to China in January fell 11.9 percent to 63.71 billion yuan, while exports declined 9.77 percent to stand at 252.11 billion yuan.

The publication of the data coincides with the start of a third round of negotiations on Thursday between China and the US in Beijing to close their differences before a Mar. 1 deadline.

Official Chinese news agency Xinhua had confirmed the start of the two-day high-level economic and trade consultations in a ceremony chaired by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, the US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The US had imposed tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, before Beijing retaliated with $110 billion of duties on US products.

Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, agreed on a 90-day commercial truce on Dec. 1 to negotiate an end to the trade dispute that has affected financial markets across the world and shaken the global growth outlook.

Trump has said he is willing to extend the Mar. 1 deadline if he thinks the two sides are close to a "real deal."

Since the Dec. 1 truce, China has lowered tariffs on vehicles imported from the US, and resumed buying soya from the country and also submitted a bill to ban the forced transfer of technology.

In a meeting with Trump at the end of January, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He had promised that China would buy 5 million tonnes of soybeans a day from the US, which the US president had praised as a "fantastic sign of faith."

If the countries fail to reach an agreement, Trump has said he will go ahead with his plan to increase tariffs on Chinese imports worth $200 billion from the current 10 percent to 25 percent.