China recorded a rare trade deficit in March, Customs authorities said on Wednesday, as imports exceeded exports by $880 million.
Imports in the world's second-largest economy rose 14.1 percent on-year to $183.07 billion, while exports climbed 10.0 percent to $182.19 billion.
The result was a surprise. The median forecast of 15 economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires was for a March surplus of $14.7 billion.
For the first quarter, the world's second-largest economy had a trade surplus of $43.07 billion, Customs said.
China's economy grew at its slowest pace in 13 years in 2012, with gross domestic product expanding 7.8 percent in the face of weakness at home and in key overseas markets.
Authorities have set a growth target for 2013 of 7.5 percent, the same as last year's.