Both sides have made conciliatory gestures but the lingering dispute threatens to chill global economic growth. On a monthly basis, the US has been a net exporter since September.
This included promises that China would buy more agricultural goods and energy imports from the U.S., part of an agreement to buy an extra $US200 billion over two years.
The cuts come as China struggles with the mounting cost of measures imposed to contain a virus outbreak that has closed factories, stores and other businesses.
The Commission also said it "hopes that both parties will be able to abide by their agreement, strive to implement its relevant content, (and) boost market confidence".
As a share of the economy, the overall trade gap narrowed to 2.9 per cent of gross domestic product from three per cent in 2018.
Another report showed activity in the crucial United States services sector accelerated for the second straight month.
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It also imported fewer capital and other goods.
At the height of the U.S.
Markets cheered China's announcement that it would halve levies on $75 billion worth of USA imports after the two last month signed their mini trade deal that dialled down a long-running and painful trade war.
On 15 January, the USA and China signed a Phase One Deal on a broader trade agreement in Washington, in what indicated a breakthrough in a trade war that had been simmering between the two major economies for almost 18 months. The deal, however, left in place U.S. tariffs on US$360 billion of Chinese imports, about two-thirds of the total. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the trade gap would widen to US$48.2 billion in December.
"This like-for-like reduction is a reciprocal action, a consistent stance the Chinese government has adopted throughout the trade war", said ANZ chief economist for Greater China Raymond Yeung. -China trade tensions and economic difficulties in neighboring Argentina. Anything above 50 signals expansion.
Economy Ministry officials said last month they expected rising imports this year to lead to an even smaller annual trade surplus than last year's, which itself was the smallest surplus since 2015.
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German sportswear company Adidas said it was temporarily shutting a "considerable" number of its stores in China. Again, an ominous difference, as the total number of cured cases according to official data for the day was 300.
Markets also were boosted by strong USA corporate earnings.
"That distortion occasionally used to generate very weak readings at the start of the year but, in this case, it looks like the ADP could have over-compensated with an adjustment".
The 10-year US Treasuries yield rose back to 1.672 per cent from a five-month low of 1.503 per cent set last Friday.
Another 73 people on the Chinese mainland died on Wednesday from the virus, the highest daily increase so far, bringing the total death toll to 563, the country's health authority said on Thursday. There was also a US$1.2 billion increase in imports of other goods. Punitive Chinese duties on American goods that were adopted from September 1 past year will be lowered, with the rate on some dropping to 5% from 10%, and the others to 2.5% from 5%.
They also say anticipation that the Phase 1 trade agreement would roll back the tariffs could have encouraged companies to hold off on imports in late 2019.
Imports of materials like plastics and crude petroleum intended for the manufacturing sector, which has been in recession for months, fell by 9.3 percent. But motor vehicle and parts exports fell US$1.0 billion to US$12.4 billion, the lowest since November 2016.
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