BEIJIING—China’s exports grew at a slower pace in April compared to the previous month, according to official data released Tuesday, as the world’s second-largest economy endures a patchy recovery from tough Covid curbs.
Rising global inflation, the threat of recession elsewhere and geopolitical tensions with the United States, have weakened demand for Chinese products.
Exports growth cooled to 8.5 percent in April in US dollar terms, after a surprise jump of 14.8 percent in March, customs data showed.
Beijing’s exports to Russia leapt 67.2 percent in April, year-on-year, but demand from markets elsewhere shrank.
China’s exports have grown for two months, snapping a run of five straight declines, when production was disrupted by sweeping lockdowns and delays at ports when China enforced its zero-Covid policy.
The stifling health restrictions were scrapped in December but domestic consumption remains subdued.
Imports fell much more sharply than expected in April, sliding 7.9 percent year-on-year, compared with a 1.4 percent decline in March. Analysts polled by Bloomberg had expected imports to decline by 0.2 percent.
“The contraction of imports may be partly driven by the slowdown of global demand, which in turn affects China’s imports of parts and components,” said Zhang Zhiwei, chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management.
China’s trade surplus grew to $90.21 billion in April, up from $88.2 billion in March.
Its economy grew 4.5 percent in the first three months of the year.
But manufacturing activity contracted in April due to tapering global demand and a slow domestic recovery.
The official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI)—a key gauge of Chinese factory output—fell unexpectedly to 49.2 in April from 51.9 in March, and below the 50-point mark that separates expansion and contraction in activity, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.
The services sector remains a bright spot, with millions travelling and going to cinemas during the Labor Day holiday, after nearly three years of travel curbs during the pandemic.
“China’s recovery in the service sector is strong… The momentum in the manufacturing sector is less clear,” Zhang said.