desertdispatch.com
 

Apr 13, 8:03 AM EDT

China's trade shrinks in sign of economic weakness


AP Photo
AP Photo

Multimedia
Video photo gallery on trash in China
China celebrates 60th year
Panorama of Tiananmen Square
Remembering Tiananmen
A year after China quake
Migrant laborers struggle to find work
Checking Beijing's Air
China's morning exercises in parks
Exploring Chinese Cuisine
Beijing Architecture Changes For Games
Woman Rescues Homeless Quake Dogs
China Holds Funeral for Panda
China's 1-child Policy Causes Extra Pain
Map of Earthquake Zone in Central China
Entrepreneurs Move Into, Out of China
Olypmics in Beijing Highlight China's Water Woes
Foreign Buyers Head to China Despite Problems
Coal Use Produces Pollution, Illness
Coal Means Profit, Woes for China
China Extending Its Reach Around the World
In China, the Desert Closes In
Latest News
Philippines urges ASEAN to stop China in South China Sea

Chinese feminist: Long hours of interrogations after release

Philippines, China trade accusations over sea threats

China denies exodus of bureaucrats amid anti-graft drive

Chairman of Taiwan's ruling Nationalist party to visit China

Buy AP Photo Reprints
Audio Slideshow
Panorama of Tiananmen Square
Remembering Tiananmen

BEIJING (AP) -- China's trade contracted in March by an unexpectedly wide margin, adding to expectations that Beijing will launch new stimulus to shore up weakening growth in the world's second-largest economy.

Exports fell 15 percent compared with a year earlier to $144.6 billion following a 20.5 percent contraction the previous month, customs data showed Monday. Imports declined 12.7 percent to $141.5 billion.

The decline fueled fears that economic growth in the first three months of this year, due to be reported this week, fell further after declining to 7.3 percent in the final quarter of 2015.

The weakness "represents not only monthly volatility but also further weakness in foreign trade, adding uncertainties to economic recovery," Citigroup economist Minggao Shen said in a report.

The economy has cooled steadily as communist leaders try to steer China to more sustainable growth based on domestic consumption and reduce reliance on trade and investment. Last year's full-year growth of 7.4 percent was the lowest in two decades.

The decline has deepened since mid-2014, feeding concern that growth might be falling too sharply and raising the risk of politically dangerous job losses.

To spur growth, Beijing has cut interest rates twice since November. China's top economic official, Premier Li Keqiang, said in March that Beijing might intervene to stimulate growth if employment weakens too much.

Also in March, the central bank governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, said economic growth had fallen "too sharply." He said inflation has fallen so low that the country should be alert to the possibility of deflation, or a damaging overall decline in prices.

Total imports and exports in the first three months of the year fell 6.3 percent from a year earlier, making it unlikely China can meet the Communist Party's official target of 6 percent growth for the year.

That "dismal performance" increases the chances Beijing might roll out more help for Chinese exporters following the announcement of export rebates in March, economist Brian Jackson of IHS Global Insight said in a report.

---

General Administration of Customs of China (in Chinese): http://www.customs.gov.cn

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.