China‘s exports plunged 25.4 percent year-on-year in February to $126.1 billion, Customs said Tuesday, as the struggling manufacturing sector dragged down the world’s second-largest economy.

The fall was much sharper than economists expected, with the median estimate of a Bloomberg News poll predicting a drop of 14.5 percent.

Photo: Wikicommons.

Imports fell for the 16th consecutive month, plunging 13.8 percent to $93.6 billion, also below expectations, with the Bloomberg survey forecasting a 12 percent slide.

The trade surplus was $32.6 billion, Customs said, a fall of 46.2 percent year-on-year according to previous data.

“Imports from and exports to major trade partners declined” in the first two months of the year, the Customs said in a statement.

It earlier gave the figures in yuan terms, which showed a 20.6 percent decline in exports and imports dropping 8.0 percent.

Chinese firms have been battered by weak demand from major markets as the global economy stutters.

The European Union flag. Photo: Wikicommons.

The European Union was China‘s top trade partner in the period but exports to the region fell 10.7 percent in yuan terms. To the US, its second-biggest market, they fell 10.9 percent.

China is the world’s biggest trader in goods but the results marked the eighth straight month of declining exports, and came after they fell 11.2 percent year-on-year in January in dollar terms.

China‘s leaders are meeting this week for the annual rubber-stamp National People’s Congress, where premier Li Keqiang set a growth target of 6.5-7.0 percent for this year.

Authorities have pledged further fiscal and monetary support to boost the flagging economy.

The country’s top economic planner declared Sunday that the world’s second-largest economy “absolutely will not have a hard landing”.

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