China's export growth slowed to a six-month low in July, fueling expectations for a weak trade performance for the year, the government said Friday.
The General Administration of Customs said exports rose 1 percent to $176.9 billion in July, plunging from the 11.3 percent growth witnessed in June and well below market expectations, China's state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.
Imports also faltered, rising 4.7 percent to $151.8 billion in July after a growth of 6.3 percent in June, the office said.
The weaker numbers indicated the government would take action to bolster the economy, Xinhua said.
"The July data were poor indeed," said Zheng Yuesheng, the GAC statistical department chief. "It will be an arduous task to fulfill our foreign trade target as external demand is weak."
The latest data came after China announced its lowest inflation rate in 30 months and the slowest industrial output growth since May 2009 in July.
"Looking at all the lackluster figures, we believe Chinese authorities must hasten the loosening of policies to shore up the economy," Liu Ligang, an economist with ANZ National Bank, told Xinhua.
China's economic growth rate slowed to 7.6 percent in the second quarter, the lowest level since the first quarter of 2009.
The central bank has cut lending and deposit rates and lowered the amount banks are required to keep in reserve. The government has also cut small-business taxes, fast-tracked investment plans and underwritten energy-saving household appliance purchases.