China's export engine keeps sputtering as fresh figures have pointed to a considerable drop in shipments last year. There's likely to be more trouble ahead when Donald Trump takes office.
China posted gloomy data on Friday, with 2016 exports falling by 7.7 percent year on year. Imports were down 5.5 percent, the General Administration of Customs reported.
The export engine in the world's largest trading nation sputtered for the second year in a row amid persistently weak global demand and officials voicing fears of a trade war with the US, clouding the outlook for 2017.
The 2016 figures marked the worst annual decline in shipments abroad since the depths of the global financial crisis in 2009.
Analysts agreed it would be tough for foreign trade to improve this year, especially if the inauguration of Donald Trump and other major political changes limited the growth of China's exports due to greater protectionist measures.
There's trouble ahead for the Asian nation if Trump makes good on a campaign pledge to brand Beijing a currency manipulator on his first day in office and starts to follow up on a threat to slap high tariffs on Chinese exports.
"The trend of anti-globalization is becoming increasingly evident and China is the biggest victim of this trend," customs spokesman Huang Songping said in a statement.
China has faced criticism from a number of its trading partners for issues such as repeated devaluation of the national currency and excess production in sectors including steel, with the European Union imposing anti-dumping duties.
hg/jd (Reuters, dpa)