China's exports growth eased sharply in April largely due to the coronavirus-related disruptions, the weak demand from Russia following the war in Ukraine and the fall in demand for pandemic-linked goods.

Exports grew only 3.9 percent on a yearly basis in April, much slower than the 14.7 percent increase seen in March, data from the General Administration of Customs showed Monday.

This was the weakest expansion since mid-2020. However, economists had forecast a bigger 3.2 percent decrease.

The blame rests partly with China's COVID-19 outbreak, which has led to manpower shortages and bottlenecks in the logistics sector, economists at Capital Economics said. But the extent of these disruptions should not be overplayed.

The firm said hopes that exports will rebound once the virus situation improves are likely to be disappointed. Instead, export volumes are expected to fall further over the coming quarters.

Although the government targets around 5.5 percent economic growth, lockdowns in many cities and supply chain bottlenecks are darkening the outlook.

The International Monetary Fund projects China GDP to grow 4.4 percent this year and 5.1 percent next year.

Official data showed that imports remained flat in April, following a 0.1 percent fall in March. Imports were expected to slide 3.0 percent.

Although exports growth slowed in April, the trade surplus rose to $51.1 billion due to unchanged imports. The surplus was forecast to rise to $50.6 billion from $47.3 billion in the previous month.

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