China’s exports continued to decline at the start of the year, reflecting the challenges posed by the global economy that constrained the ability of Beijing to set robust growth target.
Exports declined 6.8 percent in the January to February period from the same period last year, the General Administration of Customs reported Tuesday.
The annual decrease was slower than the 9.9 percent drop posted in December and also better than economists’ forecast of 9.4 percent fall.
Despite re-opening of the economy, imports logged a double-digit decline of 10.2 percent in the January to February period that was worse than December’s 7.5 percent decrease and the expected 5.5 percent fall.
Consequently, the trade balance showed a surplus of about $117 billion, which was well above the forecast of $81.8 billion.
The customs office usually combines data for January and February to avoid distortions caused by the Lunar New Year holiday.
The trade surplus is likely to decline before long, Capital Economics economist Julian Evans-Pritchard said.
The National People’s Congress signaled relatively modest policy support this year, but imports should rebound as the shift away from zero-COVID drives a recovery in travel, and therefore fuel demand, the economist noted.
However, exports are set to struggle in the near-term due to the weak global backdrop, Evans-Pritchard added.
The government announced a growth target of around 5.0 percent for this year over the weekend. The second-largest economy grew only 3.0 percent in 2022 to mark the weakest expansion in decades.
Outgoing Premier Li Keqiang warned about the challenges the economy confronts from the external environment amid sanctions and restrictions imposed by the US government that limit the access to technology.
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