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China's February exports surge, imports dip

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BEIJING, March 8 (Xinhua) -- China's trade rebounded in February from the previous month's surprise contraction but imports were subdued in another sign of continued weakness in the world's second-largest economy.

Exports surged 48.9 percent in February from a year earlier, reversing the 3.2-percent decline in January. However, imports plunged by 20.1 percent, accelerating from the previous month's 19.7-percent fall, according to data from the General Administration of Customs (GAC).

The value of February exports amounted to 1.04 trillion yuan (169.11 billion U.S. dollars) while the value of imports was 666.1 billion yuan, resulting in a widening trade surplus of 370.5 billion yuan.

The data came after China lowered its annual target of increasing foreign trade to around 6 percent for this year, from the 7.5-percent goal set for 2014.

China's exports and imports denominated in yuan rose by a mere 2.3 percent in 2014, falling short of the target for a third consecutive year.

The GAC figures showed China's exports and imports fell 2 percent year on year in the first two months, compared with a 3.8-percent increase registered during the same period of last year.

It is common for the Chinese economy to start the year sluggishly due to the Lunar New Year holiday, when many businesses and factories shut down for a week-long holiday, which began on Feb. 18 this year.

Chinese companies followed their tradition of rushing to export before the holiday, which along with a carry-over effect from last year, caused the fluctuations in exports, GAC spokesman Zhang Guangzhi said.

After discounting the seasonal factors, total trade volume declined 7.2 percent during the January-February period, with exports up 1.2 percent and imports down 17.3 percent, the GAC said.

China's trade with the EU, the country's biggest trade partner, climbed 3.8 percent in the first two months, while that with the United States, the second largest, rose 8.2 percent.

Trade with Japan fell 9 percent during the same period.

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