China suffered a major drop in both imports and exports at the end of 2022 as weakening global demand and the country's struggle to recover from its Covid-19 lockdown policy hit activity, new data has shown.
Figures from the nation's commerce ministry revealed that last December, exports were down by 9.9 percent year-on-year to $30.6 billion, while imports fell by 7.5 percent compared with the same period in 2021.
The export figures marked the biggest fall since the early days of 2020 and the second consecutive monthly decline, though imports recovered slightly from the 10.6 percent year-on-year decline recorded in November.
Exports have been a key driver for the country's economy over the last couple of years, with strong demand for Chinese manufactured goods such as electronics and medical products driven by the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, rising inflation around the world has put a dampener on consumer spending, while at the same time, the country is also struggling with the effects of its now-lifted zero-Covid policy, which has hit businesses and supply chains hard.
Beijing's commerce ministry pointed to slowing external demand and the rising risks of a global recession as the biggest issues affecting the country’s trade situation.
Meanwhile, commentators have also warned that new trade restrictions against China will also have an impact going forward.
Lloyd Chan, senior economist at Oxford Economics, said: "The outlook for exports remains weak, given the combination of slowing global growth and an ongoing consumer shift from goods towards services. Moreover, US export controls on semiconductor-related equipment will be a key drag."