China’s exports and imports both fell in May as the coronavirus and trade tensions with the U.S. weighed on demand at home and abroad.
Exports fell 3.3% compared to a year earlier to $206.8 billion and imports dropped 16.7% to $143.9 billion, the Chinese customs agency said Sunday.
The plunge in imports drove the country’s trade surplus up sharply to $62.9 billion. The surplus with the United States reached $27.9 billion and climbed $18.2 billion with the European Union.
The fall in exports came after a surprise 3.5% rise the previous month. Analysts were expecting the decline, attributing April’s rise to orders placed before virus restrictions hit overseas economies and predicting that American and European customers would also cancel other orders.
Chinese exports to the U.S. totaled $37.2 billion, about the same as the $35.5 billion in exports to the EU. However, its imports from the EU were $17.3 billion, nearly twice the $9.3 billion from the U.S.