HONG KONG (AP) — China's exports expanded at a slower pace in April while import growth also decelerated as demand cooled both at home and overseas, according to data released Monday.
Exports rose to $180 billion last month, up eight percent from a year earlier, according to Chinese customs data. They grew 16.4 percent in March.
Imports rose 11.9 percent to $142 billion, slowing from 20.4 percent growth the previous month. Both were below forecasts by economists, who said lower commodity prices also contributed to the weaker growth in trade.
Economists said the latest numbers, which follow softer readings in the most recent China and U.S. factory activity indexes, indicate slowing trade momentum.
"We think these may signal a softening momentum in China's export growth in the second quarter although the pipeline of electronic products in the global supply chain is still likely to keep China's export outlook stable through 2017," Betty Wang of ANZ Research said in a commentary.
China's politically sensitive global trade surplus came in at $38 billion, up from $23.9 billion in March. The trade surplus with U.S. rose to $21.3 billion, from $17.7 billion the previous month.
Earlier this month, the U.S. 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.
U.S. President Donald Trump has often decried trade deficits with other countries including China. He blames unfair trade practices by China for the loss of hundreds of factories and millions of manufacturing jobs.