China export, import growth weaken in July, dimming outlook

In this Aug. 3, 2017 photo, workers assemble compressors at the production line for air conditioner units in Suixi county in central China's Anhui province. China's trade growth weakened in July in a negative sign for the country's economic growth and global demand. Customs data on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017 showed growth in exports decelerated to 7.2 percent from June's 11.3 percent. Imports rose 11 percent, down from the previous month's 17.2 percent. (Chinatopix via AP)
In this Aug. 3, 2017 photo, workers assemble cooling coils at the production line of air conditioner units in Suixi county in central China's Anhui province. China's trade growth weakened in July in a negative sign for the country's economic growth and global demand. Customs data on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017 showed growth in exports decelerated to 7.2 percent from June's 11.3 percent. Imports rose 11 percent, down from the previous month's 17.2 percent. (Chinatopix via AP)
In this Aug. 3, 2017 photo, a worker controls the machinery folding aluminum rolls at a factory in Suixi county in central China's Anhui province. China's trade growth weakened in July in a negative sign for the country's economic growth and global demand. Customs data on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017 showed growth in exports decelerated to 7.2 percent from June's 11.3 percent. Imports rose 11 percent, down from the previous month's 17.2 percent. (Chinatopix via AP)
In this Aug. 3, 2017 photo, a worker arranges the aluminum rolls at a factory in Suixi county in central China's Anhui province. China's trade growth weakened in July in a negative sign for the country's economic growth and global demand. Customs data on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017 showed growth in exports decelerated to 7.2 percent from June's 11.3 percent. Imports rose 11 percent, down from the previous month's 17.2 percent. (Chinatopix via AP)

BEIJING — China's trade growth weakened in July in a negative sign for growth in the world's second-largest economy and global demand.

Exports rose 7.2 percent from a year earlier to $193.6 billion, down from June's 11.3 percent growth, according to customs data released Tuesday. Imports rose 11 percent to $146.9 billion, down from the previous month's 17.2 percent.

Forecasters have warned Chinese economic growth will cool this year, dampening demand for foreign goods, as controls imposed on bank lending to slow a rise in debt take hold.

"Trade growth now appears to be on a downward trend," said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report.

The International Monetary Fund expects this year's economic growth to slip to 6.6 percent from last year's 6.7 percent and to below 6.2 percent in 2018.

Export growth was unexpectedly strong in the first half of the year, a positive sign for Chinese leaders who want to avoid job losses in trade-related industries.

China has been credited with helping to support global demand and the downturn in import growth could have repercussions for suppliers for which this country is a major market.

China's global trade surplus declined by 10.7 percent from a year earlier to $46.7 billion.

The surplus with the United States rose 2 percent to $25.2 billion. U.S. President Donald Trump said in April he would temporarily set aside trade and currency disputes with Beijing while the two governments cooperated on North Korea, but American officials more recently have resumed criticizing Chinese trade policy.

The Chinese trade surplus with the 28-nation European Union, the country's biggest trading partner, rose 3.4 percent to $12.2 billion.

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General Administration of Customs of China: www.customs.gov.cn

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