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Imports were down 11.3 per cent to $162.41 billion and total foreign trade volume declined 9 per cent to $332.52 billion, China’s General Administration of Customs (GAC) said.
The trade balance returned to a surplus of $7.71 billion in March after a deficit of $22.98 billion the previous month, authorities said.
GAC spokesman Zheng Yuesheng played down any concerns about exports, attributing the drop to a high base figure in the corresponding period last year.
Zheng said the declining trend will be temporary and he is optimistic about trade performance in the second quarter. “China’s foreign trade will recover in May,” he said.
Thursday’s figures also showed that China’s total foreign trade volume declined 1 per cent year on year to $965.88 billion in the first three months.
“We will not take, in response to momentary fluctuations in economic growth, short-term and forceful stimulus measures. We will instead focus more on medium- to long-term healthy development,” Li said on Thursday.
The Chinese government wants to reduce the economy’s dependence on exports and enhance the role of consumption.