China imports plunge, exports fall on virus hit to global growth
Beijing,(AFP/APP):China's exports and imports fell in May as the economic slowdown abroad started to take its toll, and after a surprise jump driven by increased demand for anti-epidemic supplies, official data showed Sunday.
The country has worked to restart its economy after bringing activity to a standstill to curb the coronavirus spread, but consumer demand has remained muted and China's key overseas markets are suffering downturns.
Exports from the manufacturing powerhouse fell 3.3 percent on-year last month, better than the 6.5 percent slide expected by a Bloomberg poll of analysts.
But the return to negative territory came after a surprise 3.5 percent jump in April, which was partly due to medical exports.
Analysts have warned of signs that a larger downturn awaits.
This was significantly higher than the 7.8 percent expected by analysts, and down further from the 14.2 percent drop in April.
"Export growth rebounded in March and April, even as lockdowns came into effect abroad, because of a backlog of orders that had piled up while Chinese factories were shut in February," said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a recent report.
But he noted the Purchasing Managers' Index, a key gauge of factory activity, still pointed to "a deep downturn in exports that has yet to materialise" as activity in China's major export markets remains subdued.