China’s trade marked the first year-on-year declines in over two years in January due to a week-long holiday and a moderating Chinese economy, Chinese government figures released on Friday showed.
Exports shrank 0.5 percent year-on-year in January to USD 149.94 billion, while imports plunged 15.3 percent to USD 122.66 billion, marking the worst trade data since November 2009 during the global financial crisis, the General Administration of Customs said on its website.
The world’s second-largest economy posted a USD 27.28 billion trade surplus in January, up sharply from a USD 6.46 billion surplus posted from the previous year. The European Union remained the leading trade partner of China, followed by the US.
The figures were affected by the week-long Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, which fell in January and cut four workdays off the month compared with January of 2011, the administration said, according to state-run Xinhua News Agency.
“Lackluster foreign demand will pose severe challenges for China’s exports in the first half of this year,” Zhao Jinping, deputy head of the foreign economic research department under the Development Research Center of the State Council, was quoted as saying.
“China’s slower growth and year-on-year decreases of global commodity prices resulted in the import slowdown,” said Zhang Yansheng, director of the Institute for International Economics Research under the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planner.
Zhang also expected imports to outperform exports in the coming period, saying “the data of one month cannot demonstrate the long-term trend.”