China Posts Worst Import/Export Data in Two Years

Posted February 10th, 2012 at 4:50 am (UTC-5)
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China’s trading activity shrank in January compared to the same period a year earlier, raising concern that weak overseas demand is taking a toll on the export-driven economy.

Figures released Friday by the customs agency indicate imports sank 15.3 percent to $122.6 billion, while exports dropped 0.5 percent to $149.9 billion. It is the worst trade data since 2009.

China’s politically sensitive trade surplus rose to $27.3 billion for January, the highest figure in six months.

Analysts say the results were likely distorted by the annual Lunar New Year holiday, which fell in January this year. Many Chinese factories and businesses close or cut back production so employees can travel and spend the holiday with their families.

But financial analysts says January’s trading results indicate the world’s second-largest economy is slowing down, due to the persistently high U.S. unemployment rate and the Eurozone debt crisis.

China’s once red-hot economy has eased to 8.9 percent, the lowest rate in two-and-a-half years. The International Monetary Fund has forecast 8.2 percent growth for China in 2012, but warns the figure could be cut in half if Europe’s fiscal problems worsen.