China's exports and imports slowed for the second consecutive month, official data showed Friday, highlighting worsening conditions in the world's second-biggest economy amid global and domestic woes.
The figures - sharply below market expectations - add to concerns that China's economy continues to lose steam despite government efforts to prop up growth and investment.
Analysts said the weak data, combined with disappointing figures released Thursday, create further impetus for Beijing to announce more stimulus policies.
China's exports grew at a marginal one percent in July from a year earlier to $176.9 billion, the General Administration of Customs said in a statement, down from the 11.3 percent gain seen in June.
Imports rose 4.7 percent year-on-year to $151.8 billion last month, it said, compared with the June increase of 6.3 percent and indicating slowing domestic demand.
The trade surplus narrowed to $25.1 billion last month from $31.7 billion in June. That marked the second straight month that both exports and imports weakened.
China, the world's biggest exporter, has been hit by weakness in overseas economies including debt-ravaged Europe, a key trading partner. A sluggish property market and weakness in consumer spending have also become a drag on the economy.
“This complicates the prospects for an imminent recovery,” IHS Global Insight economists Ren Xianfang and Alistair Thornton said in a research note.
“With the export sector losing speed faster than expected, the government's current investment stimulus plan looks woefully inadequate,” they added.
“The government is likely to respond by ramping-up its stimulus efforts, with both monetary and fiscal guns firing.”
China has this year taken the rare step of slashing interest rates twice in quick succession while also lowering requirements for how much money banks must keep in reserve as it looks to spur lending.
On Thursday the government announced that industrial production, which measures output at the country's factories, workshops and mines, and retail sales, the main gauge of consumer spending, both slowed in July.
A slowdown in consumer price inflation in July for the fourth straight month, however, is seen as giving authorities more room to loosen monetary policy further in a bid to boost the slumping economy.
The consumer price index rose 1.8 percent last month year-on-year, the government also said Thursday, easing to the lowest level since January 2010. - Sapa-AFP