BEIJING: China's exports saw a shock 3.5 percent rise in April despite the global impact of the coronavirus pandemic, official figures showed Thursday, partly due to rising medical exports.
But analysts warned of weakness ahead as key markets suffer downturns, as well as the brewing threat of a renewed trade war with the United States.
Imports fell 14.2 percent on-year, a steeper drop than last month, according to the Customs Administration.
A forecast of analysts by Bloomberg had predicted an 11 percent dive in exports and a 10 percent plunge in imports.
Exports of medical instruments and devices rose 11 percent in the first four months from a year ago, according to customs data, while most other categories contracted.
ING chief economist for Greater China Iris Pang told AFP that China's exports of medical supplies provided a boost as the rest of the world grappled with the pandemic.
Pang added that while exports of clothing shrank, sales of textile yarns, fabrics and other products grew, implying they were used to make medical supplies.
Beijing says it has been successful in largely curbing the spread of the virus in the country, and many businesses and factories are now back at work after months of closure.
And Louis Kuijs of Oxford Economics noted that "April shipments may have been boosted by exporters making up for shortfalls in the first quarter due to supply constraints then".
In the January-February period, the height of China's coronavirus outbreak, exports plummeted 17.2 percent.