China imports, exports slump in July: Customs

Beijing, China's imports and exports both slumped in July, with its purchases plummeting by 12.5 per cent, Customs said today, in the latest poor figures from the world's second-largest economy.

Measured in US dollars, imports fell to USD 132.4 billion. The drop was significantly larger than the 7.0 per cent median forecast in a survey of economists by Bloomberg News.

Exports also fell in dollar terms, dropping 4.4 per cent to USD 184.7 billion and also below expectations of a 3.5 percent decline. 

As the world's biggest trader in goods, China is crucial to the global economy and its performance affects partners from Australia to Zambia, which have been battered by its slowing growth -- while it faces headwinds itself in key developed markets.

The July figures were the fourth month in a row that exports declined in dollar terms.

Its imports have been shrinking since late 2014 with global commodity prices hammered as the country's once blistering expansion lost steam, slowed down by manufacturing overcapacity, a slowing property market and mounting debt.

July was the biggest monthly fall in imports since February, when they lost 13.8 per cent.

Total trade volume with the European Union, China's biggest trading partner, rose 1.8 per cent in the first seven months of the year, Customs said in a statement, and was up 0.8 per cent with Japan.

But it fell 4.8 per cent with the US, data showed. China's Customs administration releases trade figures in the country's own yuan currency first, before later issuing a US dollar figure -- which more clearly illustrates its impact on the rest of the world.

In yuan terms, exports rose 2.90 per cent year-on-year to 1.22 trillion yuan, with imports falling 5.70 per cent to 873 billion yuan.