BEIJING (AFP) - China's exports suffered their third month of decline in October, and while the drop was less than expected there were warnings on Friday (Nov 8) of more pain to come as the US trade war rumbles on.
While tensions between the world's top two economies are beginning to ease, Beijing is struggling to get the engines of growth firing on all cylinders as demand for its goods around the world tails off.
In the latest sign of weakness, official data showed overseas shipments fell 0.9 per cent on-year last month, though that is much slower than the 3.2 per cent drop seen in September and much better than forecasts.
Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had tipped a 3.9 per cent plunge.
Imports sank for the sixth straight month in October, dropping 6.4 per cent, though that was also an improvement the previous month and beat estimates.
China's trade surplus with the United States, a key point of anger in the White House. increased to US$26.42 billion.
The economic powerhouses have been embroiled in a bruising trade war for more than a year, with punitive tariffs slapped on two-way trade worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
But markets have been buoyed in recent weeks by expectations the row, which has dragged on the global economy, could be easing as China and the US finalise a mini trade deal that is part of a wider agreement.
Hopes for an end to the stand-off were boosted Thursday when China said the two sides have agreed a plan to remove tariffs imposed on goods in stages if the phase one preliminary pact on which they are working is completed.
"The contraction in both exports and imports eased more than expected last month," said Martin Rasmussen, China Economist at Capital Economics.
"But even if the 'phase one' US-China trade deal crosses the finish line, it is unlikely to alleviate the main headwinds facing exporters and outbound shipments look set to remain weak in the coming months."