(AP) China's exports suffered an unexpectedly sharp decline in September amid weak global demand but imports rose.
Export data announced by the customs agency Saturday also might be affected by government efforts to improve the accuracy of trade data. Some analysts say earlier export figures were inflated, which would make more accurate recent numbers look weak by comparison.
Exports declined by 0.3 percent to $185.6 billion, said Zheng Yuesheng, deputy director-general of the customs agency's statistics department, at a news conference. Private sector forecasters had expected growth at least in low single digits after August's 7.2 percent growth.
Imports rose 7.4 percent to $170.4 billion, in line with August's 7 percent growth, according to Zheng, in a positive sign for China's efforts to reverse an economic slowdown.
China's politically sensitive global trade surplus narrowed by 45 percent from a year earlier to $15.2 billion.
Relatively strong imports reflected Chinese domestic demand driven by higher government spending aimed at preventing the economy from slowing too much.
Growth in the world's second-largest economy fell to a two-decade low of 7.5 percent in the second quarter. The latest industrial data suggest the economy gained strength in the quarter ending in September but analysts say that may not last.
"We remain cautious on the sustainability of the ongoing recovery," said JP Morgan economist Haibin Zhu in a report this week. "We expect the recovery will last until the end of the year but is likely to slow down again in 2014."