BEIJING-China's exports rose 14.3% in April from a year earlier in yuan terms, following a 22.3% increase in March, official data showed Monday.
Exports grew 8% in April from the prior year, but slower than the expected growth of 11.3% and March's 16.4% increase.
Imports rose 11.9 percent to $142 billion, slowing from 20.4 percent growth the previous month.
The value of shipments overseas had been forecast to grow 10.0% according to economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.
China's trade surplus with the world rose to $38.05 billion from $23.9 billion in March.
Many of China's independent refineries, nicknamed "teapots", have almost run out of import permits issued at the start of the year, another reason for slowing imports, said IHS's Liu. China has reported its exports expanded for a second straight month in Apri. At the same time, China's imports from Russian Federation increased by 30.1 percent to $13.08 billion, the report adds.
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During the first four months, trade with the European Union gained 15.5 percent year on year to 1.24 trillion yuan, accounting for 14.8 percent of the total. "Imports will likely trend down further in the coming few months as refinery maintenance season unfolds and teapots run out of import quotas", said Harry Liu, analyst of consultancy IHS Markit.
Imports have accelerated this year as China's state energy giants pump less crude after last year's price crash forced them to cut spending on the country's mature, high-cost fields. Foreign trade is expected to face a better environment in 2017 compared with the past two years, it said.
In U.S. dollar terms, exports went up 8 percent in April, nearly on par with the 8.2-percent gain registered in the first quarter.
"Exports should continue to grow steadily this year", Mr. Cai said, adding that he sees less of a threat of higher US import tariffs on Chinese goods, a possibility Mr. Trump has mentioned.
"Looking ahead, we expect export growth to hold up well given the relatively bright outlook for the global economy this year", Capital Economics China economist Julian Evans-Pritchard said in a note.
Beijing China's import growth slowed faster than expected in April, as inbound shipments of commodities such as iron ore and copper weakened, while export growth more than halved, in line with a general cooling in demand for electronic gadgets.