Exports fell 6.6 percent in March from a year earlier and imports dropped 0.9 percent, according to Customs data released Tuesday.
China’s foreign trade fell again in March even as businesses returned to work after the coronavirus outbreak, with the global pandemic weighing on the manufacturing powerhouse’s outlook. Exports fell 6.6 percent in March from a year earlier and imports dropped 0.9 percent, according to Customs data released Tuesday.
The contraction was less than a Bloomberg economist forecast that predicted a 10 percent or more decline in both figures, and well below the 17.2 plunge in exports seen in the first two months of the year. But analysts warned that a broader recovery would be hamstrung for as long as the viral pandemic ravaged China’s trading partners.
“The worst is still to come for China’s export sector,” warned Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics. China’s trade surplus with the United States — a key point of contention in the bruising trade war between the world’s top two economies — narrowed again in March by 25.3 percent on-year to $15.3 billion.
January’s phase one trade deal between Washington and Beijing had seen “good growth momentum” in some commodities imports from the US such as soybeans and pork, said Customs official Li Kuiwen. But Li also sounded a sombre note on foreign trade forecasts for the rest of the year.
“We have noted that the global COVID-19 spread is still accelerating, causing a serious impact on the world’s economic development,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “Shrinking demand in the international market will inevitably deal a blow to China’s exports,” he said.