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China imports down 2.3% on year in June: government

[BEIJING] China's imports fell 2.3 per cent year-on-year in yuan terms in June, official data showed on Wednesday, in a possible sign of weakening domestic demand in the world's second-largest economy.

Exports rose 1.3 per cent on year, Customs said, while the monthly trade surplus jumped 12.8 per cent to 311.2 billion yuan (around S$62.7 million).

As the world's biggest trader in goods China is crucial to the global economy and its performance affects partners from Australia to Zambia, which have been battered by its slowing growth - while it faces headwinds itself in key developed markets.

Customs attributed the fall in import values to weakening commodity prices.

"The input volume of major bulk commodities such as iron ore, crude oil and copper maintained growth," it said in a statement. "The prices of major import commodities remained low with a narrowing price decline."

China imports and exports both fell in the first half of the year, by 4.7 per cent and 2.1 per cent respectively.

Customs said there were "obvious obstacles" blocking China's foreign trade development, particularly the decline in business in both directions with major trading partners such as the US and ASEAN.