China's exports and imports declined at a slower than expected pace in March despite the spread of coronavirus, or covid-19 among its major trading partners.
In dollar terms, exports decreased 6.6 percent on a yearly basis in March, data from the General Administration of Customs revealed Tuesday. This was slower than the expected decrease of 14 percent.
Imports were down 0.9 percent versus the expected decline of 9.5 percent.
As a result, the trade balance showed a surplus of $19.9 billion compared to economists' forecast of $18.5 billion.
In yuan terms, exports decreased 3.5 percent from last year, while imports grew 2.4 percent, taking the trade surplus to CNY 130 billion in March, the customs office reportedly said. Economists had forecast exports to drop 12.8 percent and imports to fall 7 percent.
In the first quarter, exports were down 11.4 percent annually and imports decreased 0.7 percent in local currency terms.
With Covid-19 spreading worldwide, the global economy faces mounting downward pressure," Li Kuiwen, a customs spokesperson, said. Uncertainties are on rise and China's foreign trade is encountering major difficulties.
The World Trade Organization last week said global trade is set to fall between 13 percent and 32 percent in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts normal economic activity and life around the world.
WTO economists believe the decline will likely exceed the trade slump brought on by the global financial crisis of 2008 09.