China saw imports drop for the twelfth month in a row in October giving further cause for concern over the Chinese economy. Imports by the world's biggest trader of goods fell 18.8% from a year earlier to $130.8bn, a slight improvement on September's 20.4% decline.
Exports dropped 6.9% to $192.4bn, the fourth consecutive monthly fall, as foreign demand waned. That left China with its highest trade surplus on record at $61.6bn.
Chinese authorities have been trying to make the economy more consumer-led and less reliant on exports, but the continuing fall in imports suggests domestic demand is not as strong as Beijing would like.
The ruling Communist party set a target of 6% trade growth at the start of the year, but total trade for the world's second largest economy has now fallen by 8% in the first ten months.
Liu Li-gang, an economist at ANZ bank, said: Soft domestic demand and the decline in commodity prices continued to weigh on China's import growth.
Looking ahead, China's export sector will continue to face significant headwinds.”
Last week Chinese President Xi Jinping signaled that policymakers would accept slower economic growth than the current 7% target.
He said annual economic growth should be no less than 6.5% in the next five years if China is to double its 2010 gross domestic product by 2020.
Last month China revealed its economy slipped to 6.9% growth in the third quarter, the weakest rate since the global financial crisis.
Although slightly above expectations, the figures put further pressure on the government after a slew of disappointing manufacturing, inflation and trade data.