Chinese exports unexpectedly fell 6.6% year-over-year in March.
This missed expectations for a 4.8% rise, and compares with an 18.1% decline the previous month.
Imports were down 11.3% on the year, and missed expectations for a 3.9% rise. This compares with a 10.1% rise in February.
Meanwhile, China posted a trade surplus of $US7.7 billion, wider than expectations for $US1.80 billion. This compares with a deficit of $US22.9 billion the previous month.
The latest data adds to concerns of a Chinese economic slowdown.
Ahead of the data release, Bank of America’s Ting Lu wrote that “the still low export growth forecast is partly due to fabricated trades in March last year. Moreover, there does not seem to be much improvement in external demand.” He attributed slow import growth to the decline in copper and iron financing.
The Lunar New Year holiday was widely blamed for the weak February figures. But some economists also pointed out that yuan weakness could have deterred hot money flows, weighing on trade data.