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China’s exports up, imports sag in possible sign of weakness

A Chinese national flag is seen in front of a chimney of a heat supply plant in Beijing on May 13, 2014.

KIM KYUNG-HOON/REUTERS

China's export growth accelerated in July but imports sagged in a possible sign of weakness in the world's second-largest economy.

Exports jumped 14.5 per cent from a year earlier, double June's 7.2-per-cent growth, customs data showed Friday. Imports fell 1.6 per cent, down from the previous month's 5.5-per-cent expansion.

Chinese leaders are counting on exports to help support employment while they try to nurture growth based on domestic consumption. Their plans call for annual trade growth of 7.5 per cent, but so far this year total imports and exports are up only 0.2 per cent.

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Weakness in global demand for Chinese goods prompted the communist government to earlier this year launch mini-stimulus efforts based on higher spending on railways and other public works.

Economic growth edged up slightly to 7.5 per cent over a year earlier in the three months ending in June. It was 7.4 per cent in the first quarter.

The decline in July imports exceeded analyst forecasts and was a sign domestic economic activity might be weakening. So far this year, imports are down 0.8 per cent compared with the same period last year.

July exports totalled $212.9-billion (U.S.) while imports were $165.6-billion. China's politically sensitive global trade surplus more than doubled over a year earlier to $47.3-billion.

The country's trade surplus with the European Union, its biggest trading partner, swelled by 37 per cent over a year earlier to $13.7-billion. That with the United States widened by 17 per cent to $22.3-billion.

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