BEIJING -- As a gain in imports outpaced one in exports, China's July trade surplus fell 29.6% year-on-year to $17.8 billion, government data showed Thursday.
Exports increased 5.1% year-on-year to $186.0 billion, according to figures from customs, while imports rose 10.9% to $168.2 billion.
The results marked a rebound in both exports and imports after they had declined in June, with the gain in imports being the first since April.
The trade data come after mixed messages on China's economy last week when private and official surveys of the country's important manufacturing sector showed differing results.
British banking giant HSBC's purchasing managers' index indicated contraction while the government's showed a surprise expansion.
China's economy managed growth of 7.8% in 2012, its slowest since 1999.
The economy has since weakened further, with growth in the April-June period dipping to 7.5%, from 7.7% in the first quarter and 7.9% in October-December.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013