China's international trade performance was weaker than expected during July, raising concerns about whether the economy's recent recovery will continue.
Official data from the government has shown that China's year-on-year export growth slowed to 7.2 per cent in July, which was the weakest pace since February, down from an 11.3 per cent rise in June, and lower than the projected 10.9 per cent increase.
Meanwhile, imports rose 11 per cent, which marked the slowest growth since December and was down from a 17.2 per cent hike in the previous month, as well as missing analysts' estimates of a 16.6 per cent improvement.
China still achieved overall trade growth of 8.8 per cent during the month, which was the slowest rate seen this year.
This has led to speculation that global demand is starting to cool. Although seasonal or one-off factors may have played a role, the weaker import growth may be a sign that the Chinese economy is slowing down after a strong first half of 2017.
Raymond Yeung, chief economist for Greater China at ANZ in Hong Kong, said: "External demand is not really worrying in terms of the outlook, but we have to be cautious about the import outlook."