Chinese Export Growth Slowed in April, Underscoring Economic Tensions Amid Lockdowns

Export and import growth in China slumped in April amid worsening Covid-19 outbreak leading cutback on demand and undermining production.

Export growth in April slowed to 3.9% in dollar terms from a year earlier, compared to an increase in March of 14.7%, customs data showed Monday. This marks the weakest pace since June 2020.

Imports were unchanged in April after sliding 0.1% in the previous month.

April’s data captures impact of COVID restrictions on trade and manufacturing hub Shanghai which is also the home to world’s largest port.

The Communist Party’s top leaders have pledged more stimulus to meet an economic growth target of about 5.5% this year, but have also insisted on sticking with the strict Covid Zero strategy. However, economists argue the two goals contradict with each other.

However, global demand, meanwhile, appears to have stayed resilient last month, as South Korea’s exports — a leading indicator of world trade — grew by double digits. South Korea’s shipments to China, though, fell 3.4% from a year earlier, compared with a 16.6% gain in March. That suggests China’s slowdown is more a product of its own Covid restrictions, rather than weakening external demand.