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China's exports down 3.5%, imports up 2.4% in March

Updated: Apr 14,2020 11:06 AM    Xinhua

BEIJING — China's foreign trade showed signs of stabilizing in March with export and import both beating bearish market expectations, official data showed on April 14.

Exports dipped 3.5 percent year-on-year in yuan terms last month while imports climbed 2.4 percent, data from the General Administration of Customs (GAC) showed.

In March, foreign trade of goods totaled 2.45 trillion yuan (about $348 billion), down 0.8 percent year-on-year, compared with a decline of 9.5 percent during the January-February period, the GAC said.

In the first quarter, foreign trade of goods fell 6.4 percent year-on-year to 6.57 trillion yuan.

Exports dropped 11.4 percent to 3.33 trillion yuan while imports dipped 0.7 percent to 3.24 trillion yuan during the first three months, resulting in a trade surplus of 98.33 billion yuan, down 80.6 percent year-on-year, customs data showed.

China's trade with countries along the Belt and Road bucked the trend of weakened growth in the first three months, rising 3.2 percent year-on-year.

ASEAN overtook the European Union as China's largest trading partner in Q1, with bilateral trade up 6.1 percent year-on-year to over 991 billion yuan.

"China is highly resilient and competitive in foreign trade, and its firms are strong in innovation and market development," GAC spokesman Li Kuiwen said at a news conference on April 14.

Still, as the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on global economy, a contraction in global demand will inevitably show its impact on China's exports and the difficulties ahead can not be underestimated, Li said.

The World Trade Organization predicted that global trade would fall by between 13 percent and 32 percent in 2020 due to disruptions caused by COVID-19, and all regions of the world are expected to suffer double-digit declines in their trade.

China has rolled out a string of policies to help foreign trade firms resume operation amid further containment of COVID-19 at home.

The firms have been advancing work and production resumption in an orderly manner, with more than 76 percent of key firms in the sector having recovered over 70 percent of their production capacity as of April 9, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

The ministry has pledged to facilitate sales of export products in domestic market, as part of efforts to stabilize foreign trade amid slump in global trade.

In particular, domestic sales of goods in processing trade will be advanced to support the sector, which accounts for one-fourth of China's foreign trade and was hard-hit by supply and demand disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.