(ATF) The coronavirus pandemic has decimated China’s first-quarter trade surplus as a worldwide industrial lockdown punished the nation’s exports and imports for a second month in March.
The difference between earnings from exports and imports declined more than 80% in the quarter to 98.33 billion yuan ($14bn).
The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on international trade, with the World Trade Organization (WTO) forecasting a 32% drop in the value of goods bought and sold across borders this year. That would make it the worst decline since the war, the WTO said.
Chinese exports fell 11.4% in in the first three months of the year, driven down by the closure of the nation’s industrial base in February and March as the virus spread from the central city of Wuhan, where it emerged late last year.
Imports slid 0.7% and overall foreign trade of goods dropped 6.5% in the quarter as the US and other exporters closed their supply lines to China.
The data, released by the General Administration of Customs on Tuesday, showed total foreign trade in March decreased 0.8% year-on-year.
The loosening of some restrictions in March as the virus appeared to be subsiding gave a moderate boost to trade, the figures show.
While exports dipped 3.5% in yuan terms, that was an improvement on 16% decline registered in February, and imports climbed 2.4 %, the data showed.