BEIJING, March 10 (Xinhua) -- For the first time in a year, China recorded a trade deficit of 31.48 billion U.S. dollars in February, as import growth far outpaced exports.
Exports rose 18.4 % from a year earlier to 114.47 billion U.S. dollars in February, while imports were up 39.6 % to 145.96 billion U.S. dollars, customs data showed Saturday.
The fast trade expansion was fueled by the lower comparative base for last February, when the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday cut working days from the month and skewed trade data, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) said. The week-long holiday fell in January this year.
After seasonal adjustments, the annual growth of exports slowed to 4 % in February while that of imports was cut down to 9.4 %.
Exports this January fell 0.5 % from a year earlier, the worst slowing in more than two years, and imports fell even more sharply, plunging 15.3 %.
The country's foreign trade rose 7.3 % year-on-year to 533.03 billion U.S. dollars in the first two months, with a combined trade deficit of 4.25 billion U.S. dollars, the GAC said.
China's trade with the European Union, its largest trade partner, grew 4.7 % year-on-year in the January-February period to 79.8 billion U.S. dollars. However, China's sales to the Eurozone slid 1.1 % in the first two months year-on-year.
In February, the United States, the nation's second-largest trade partner, replaced the EU as China's largest export market, as monthly sales to the U.S. outnumbered that to the EU.
China's trade with the U.S. gained 9.2 % year-on-year to 66.05 billion U.S. dollars.