HONG KONG—Chinese imports and exports shrank again in May, the latest sign of slow growth in the world’s second biggest economy that adds to pressure on Beijing to avoid a sharp slump.
Customs data released June 8 showed that exports contracted 2.8 per cent from a year earlier to $1.17 trillion yuan (US$189 billion).
Imports shrank 18.1 per cent to $803.3 billion yuan ($129 billion). For the first five months of the year, total imports and exports fell 7.8 per cent.
In dollar-denominated terms, exports shrank 2.5 per cent while imports tumbled 17.6 per cent, leaving a trade surplus of $59.49 billion, according to the customs data.
China’s leaders are trying to steer the economy toward growth based on domestic spending and reduce its reliance on trade and investment.
The economy expanded 7 per cent in the first quarter, the slowest quarterly growth since the global financial crisis in 2008.
The poor trade data comes a week after an official index of activity in China’s giant manufacturing industry remained subdued, with both export demand and employment shrinking.
Policymakers in Beijing have unleashed several rounds of stimulus, including cutting interest rates three times in six months and slashing reserve requirement ratios for banks to free up money for lending. Analysts say more measures will likely be needed if growth slows too abruptly.