BEIJING — China's trade numbers declined unexpectedly in March, with both imports and exports dropping significantly from last year, according to data released Thursday by the General Administration of Customs.
But economists and a government spokesman said the unanticipated drop is largely due to exaggerated figures from last year, not the sign of a significant slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.
The new numbers show that China's exports in March fell by 6.6. percent from the same month last year, while imports were down 11.3 percent from March of 2013. Analysts had expected a slight pick-up in trade numbers that slumped through the February lull of the post-Lunar New Year holiday. Exports in February were down 18.1 percent, but there has been some concern that the sharp drops are related to bad bookkeeping over the course of last year.
Customs agency spokesman Zheng Yuesheng said the decline was related to over-inflated figures from 2013 and did not signify a serious drop in China's real trade data. Officials have said last year's data was propped up higher than reality by over-invoicing.
"China's foreign trade will recover in May," Zheng said in a statement.
For the first quarter of this year, China's trade was down by one percent overall. The customs agency said 3.4 percent while imports were up 1.6 percent in the first three months of 2014 compared with the same period last year. On paper, China's exports soared by 20 percent in the first quarter of 2013 compared with the same period in 2012, but it now seems trade for tax fraud and attempts to disguise hot money may have played a significant role in those increased figures.
Economist Wang Fuzhong wrote on his Weibo microblog account that the decline for this year was a correction and nothing to get worked up about.
"Last year's export data was inflated as there was too much fake trade," Wang wrote.
Still, there are some fears this may be the latest in a growing number of signals that China's economy is slowing more than anticipated. The World Bank has just revised its growth projections for this year, saying the Chinese economy will increase by 7.6 percent in 2014, not the 7.7 percent it predicted earlier.
China has scaled back its own targets for trade growth, aiming for a 7.5 percent increase in foreign trade this year, compared with an 8 percent growth target.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye