A strong performance for imports resulted in a rare monthly trade deficit for China during February 2017.
Official data from China's General Administration of Customs has indicated that imports soared 38.1 per cent in US dollar terms during the month, which was almost double the rate of increase that analysts had predicted.
By contrast, exports dipped by 1.3 per cent, confounding expectations of a double-digit percentage increase. This resulted in a trade deficit of $9.15 billion (€8.6 billion) for February, compared to a surplus of $51.35 billion in January.
This represented the first deficit China has recorded in three years, although it was noted that seasonal factors associated with the timing of the the weeklong Lunar New Year holidays were the main reason for this.
According to economists, the country is currently benefiting from strong domestic demand and an improving global outlook, although an antagonistic relationship with the US remains a concern.
Bloomberg Intelligence economists Tom Orlik and Fielding Chen said: "Getting a clear read on China’s trade at the start of the year is tough ... That said, the early signs are positive, with exports registering solid growth and imports way up."