Chinese export, import growth slow in April as rebound cools

A man pushes a fashion advertisement billboard outside a fashion boutique under renovation at Ritan International Trade Center in Beijing

A man pushes a fashion advertisement billboard outside a fashion boutique under renovation at Ritan International Trade Center in Beijing

Imports increased 18.6 percent to 979.1 billion yuan, compared with a 26.3-percent increase a month ago.

The tightening regulation came as China reported a strong first quarter, with GDP growth hitting 6.9 percent year on year, beating the annual target of around 6.5 percent.

Exports to the huge USA market increased by 11.7 percent in April compared to 19.7 percent a month earlier, while shipments to the European Union rose four percent.

Exports grew by 8 per cent from a year earlier, half the pace recorded in March, according to official figures.

China's crude oil imports eased in April from a record high set the previous month as refiners processed less oil during a heavy maintenance season, customs data showed on Monday.

"Looking ahead, we expect export growth to hold up well given the relatively bright outlook for the global economy this year", Capital Economics China economist Julian Evans-Pritchard said in a note.

"Today's trade data suggest that growth momentum weakened slightly in April", according to an analysis by Nomura investment bank.

While China's economy grew faster than expected in the first quarter, policymakers have moved to reduce financial risks in the economy and stamp out speculative activity in the property market.

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Monthly import growth was partly weighed down by a sharp decline in demand for commodities such as iron ore and crude oil, coupled with corrections in commodity prices in April, noted China Merchants Securities (CMS).

President Trump, last month, launched a trade investigation against Beijing and others for exporting cheap steel into United States market. This is the fourth month in a row that imports have set a record for their respective month.

U.S. President Donald Trump has often decried trade deficits with other countries including China.

Earlier this month, the US reported that its trade deficit was at its narrowest in months but rising imports of Chinese cellphones and telecoms gear pushed the trade gap with China higher.

"I think we will see imports back above 90 million tonnes over the next couple of months", he said.

China remained the world's largest exporter in 2016 for the eighth consecutive year, accounting for 13% of the global total even as exports become a less-important growth driver for the country. "Imports will reflect that trend first", Xia said.

Foreign trade is set to face a better environment in 2017 compared with the past two years, the report said.

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