– China’s exports for February tumbled 20.7% year-on-year, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Friday.
The export reading in February came in much lower than market expectations of a 4.8% drop. It also reversed January gains of 9.1%.
Imports were also down 5.2%, while the market estimated a 1.4% decline only.
The decrease has left China with a trade surplus in February of $4.12 billion, much smaller than the expected $26.38 billion.
The February export data represented the biggest tumble in three years, and imports also fell for a third straight month.
This data came at a time when China was already showing signs of a slowing economy.
On Tuesday, Chinese policymakers lowered GDP growth targets to between 6% to 6.5%. Last year, China expanded by 6.6%, which was its slowest growth rate since 1990.
China’s Finance Minister Lui Kun said on Thursday that the country would use tax cuts to prop up the slowing economy.
While an economic slowdown in China might be behind the worse-than-expected data in February, seasonal factors might also have contributed to the rosy data in January. Exporters tend to load their shipments ahead of the week-long annual Lunar New Year festive period that takes place in February.
The ongoing U.S.-China trade war was also cited as negatively impacting Chinese factories, though both sides are reported to want to conclude the trade talks soon.
“Right now, I think there’s just a lot of work in getting words down ... a contract or agreement, and that’s the current status,” Ted McKinney, undersecretary for U.S. Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, told a press call.
Bloomberg reported that U.S. President Donald Trump is pushing for negotiators to close a Sino-U.S. trade deal ahead of the 2020 campaign.
The worse-than-expected export data sent Chinese stocks further down on Friday afternoon. By 11:03 PM ET (04:03 GMT), the Shanghai Composite was down 2.90% and the Shenzhen Component lost 1.55%.]]>