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China’s foreign trade continues to weaken in the first quarter

Updated: Apr 13,2015 11:24 AM     Xinhua

File photo shows cargo containers at a Shanghai port in 2014.[Photo/Xinhua]

China’s foreign trade remained anemic in the first quarter of 2015, with exports registering a big slump in March following signs of improvement, official data showed on April 13.

Last month, the foreign trade volume dropped by 13.5 percent to 1.76 trillion yuan ($286.6 billion) from a year earlier, following an 11.3-percent increase in February and a 10.8-percent decrease in January, said the General Administration of Customs (GAC).

The lackluster performance was partly dragged down by a 14.6-percent export slump in March, following a 48.9-percent surge in February, indicating the external environment is still grim.

Total foreign trade posted a 6-percent decrease in the first three months, falling to 5.54 trillion yuan, with exports rising 4.9 percent and imports dropping 17.3 percent, according to the GAC data.

The figures came after China lowered its annual target for foreign trade growth to around 6 percent for 2015, from the 7.5-percent goal for 2014, when a mere 2.3 percent increase was delivered, falling short of the target for the third consecutive year.

China’s trade with the European Union, its biggest trade partner, waned by 2.1 percent in the first quarter, while that with the United States, the second largest, rose 3.2 percent.

Trade with Japan plummeted by 11 percent during this period.

“Generally speaking, China’s foreign trade is on the decline as the global recovery is sluggish, and domestic downward pressure is mounting,” said GAC spokesman Huang Songping.

Exports as calculated in yuan fell 14.6 percent in March from a year ago, government data showed on April 13. The impact of the Lunar New Year in February and weak global demand contributed to the drop, Huang said. Imports fell 12.3 percent from a year ago.