China's exports growth slows to single digits in April

China's exports growth slows to single digits in April

Containers are seen at the Yangshan Deep Water Port in Shanghai.

BEIJING Reuters - China's export growth slowed to single digits in April, while imports were unchanged as tighter and wider COVID 19 curbs halted factory production, disrupted supply chains and caused a collapse in domestic demand.

Exports in dollar were up 3.9% in April from a year earlier in the year, compared with 14.7% growth in March, and slightly beat analysts' forecast of 3.2%. The growth was the slowest since June 2020.

Imports were unchanged year-on-year last month, improving slightly from a 0.1% fall in March and a bit better than the 3.0% contraction predicted by the Reuters poll.

China posted a trade surplus of $51.12 billion in the month, compared to a $50.65 billion surplus in the poll. The country reported a $47.38 billion surplus in March.

Beijing's efforts to curb the country's largest COVID 19 outbreaks in two years have resulted in clogged highways and ports, slowed activity in dozens of cities, including the commercial hub of Shanghai, and forced companies from Apple's parent company Foxconn to suspend some operations.

In April, factory activity was already contracting at a much faster pace, industry surveys showed that there were fears that a slowdown in the world's second largest economy will affect global growth.

Shi Xinyu, a foreign trade manager in Yiwu, said only 20 -- 50% of stores are open due to COVID disruptions.

Shi said that the weakened import demand came amid the downward cycle of the economy and COVID hit. Life is already hard enough and it happens when we have a leaky roof as it rains. Growth is weighed down by heightened risks from the Ukraine war, persistently soft consumption and a prolonged downturn in the property market, according to analysts.

With the national jobless rate at a close to two-year high, authorities have promised more help to shore up confidence and ward off further job losses in a politically sensitive year.

Some analysts are warning of rising recession risks, saying policymakers must provide more stimulus in order to reach an official 2022 growth target of about 5.5%, unless Beijing relaxes its zero-COVID policy.

There are few signs of that happening. The country's top leaders said last week they would stick with their zero-COVID policy, stoking fears of a sharp economic downturn.

Exports were likely to rebound in April due to a sharply depreciating yuan. In April, the Chinese currency suffered its worst month in nearly two years, as risks to the economy grow and touched a 1 -- 1 2 year low.