The performance of China's exports saw a long-awaited improvement during March 2016, according to the latest government figures.
During the month, the country's export total rose by 11.5 per cent compared to March 2015, representing the first increase since last June and the single biggest improvement since February last year.
By contrast, February had recorded a 25.4 per cent decline, with 14 economists polled by the Wall Street Journal expecting that only an 8.5 per cent increase would be seen during March. Imports also declined less than expected at 7.6 per cent, compared with February’s 13.8 per cent drop.
It means that the Asian superpower's trade surplus shrank to $29.86 billion (€26.4 billion) in US dollar terms, down from $32.5 billion in March, and less than the forecast of $30.85 billion.
The improvement will be welcomed by international traders worldwide, who have been impacted by the slowdown of the country's economy over the last few months. Nevertheless, economists are warning that these latest results may be skewed by base effects and seasonal distortions from the Chinese new year celebrations.
Meanwhile, first-quarter GDP data to be released later this week is expected to show the Chinese economy is growing at its slowest pace since the financial crisis, indicating that the recent slow trade performance is likely to persist for some time, with no change in monetary policy strategy.
Wang Tie Shi, economist with Industrial Securities, said: "China's foreign trade sector will likely improve from last year due to low comparables, but the improvement will not be dramatic, as the trends in external markets are not great."