June saw the smallest decline in imports in eight months, a fresh sign of recovery for the world's third largest economy.
The country imported $87.2 billion worth of goods last month, a year-on-year drop of 13.2 percent, Customs data showed on Friday. In May, imports had dropped more than 25 percent year-on-year to $75.3 billion.
"China is importing more (a month) to meet its consumer and industrial need," Industrial Securities' chief economist Dong Xian'an said.
"There's light at the end of the tunnel, given that imports are a leading indicator of China's exports," Sun Mingchun, chief China economist with Hong Kong-based Nomura Holdings Inc, told Bloomberg. "The worst for exports will be over soon."
The fall in exports, too, eased last month because overseas buyers have placed more orders for Chinese goods in the past few months. Though overseas sales in June slid 21.4 percent year-on-year to $95.4 billion, it was less than May's 26.4 percent.
As a whole, foreign trade in June dropped to $182.57 billion, down 17.7 percent year-on-year, and had a surplus of $8.15 billion, the smallest in two years.
A survey shows China's new order index vaulted over 50 percent for the first time in June, after inching up for seven consecutive months since December. The survey was conducted by CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, Asia's leading independent brokerage, and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing.
The fall in exports is expected to slow down further in the second half because the US and European Union economies, the biggest buyers of Chinese goods, show signs of improvement, said Su Chang, chief analyst with Beijing-based CEBM Group.
Exports will drop by 15-20 percent in the third quarter, and could be down by just 10 percent in the last, Su said.
Economic indicators show the Chinese economy has bottomed out, with factories increasing output. Industrial production in May rose 8.9 percent year-on-year after increasing 7.3 percent in April.
But traders said they still felt the pinch of meager demand, and some analysts cautioned about uncertainty of the export market.
"We shouldn't be too upbeat about exports because the West has not really bounced back", said Song Hong, senior professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
A majority of the 70 small- and medium-sized exports firms in coastal areas, surveyed by the academy, said they would down their shutters if the economic crisis continued till next year. Source:China Daily