BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s exports contracted sharply in May and imports declined more slowly than expected, data released by China Customs showed on Wednesday.

After beating expectations in the first quarter, the Chinese economy is now facing a slowdown in industrial production, as weak global demand persists.

Exports fell 7.5% year on year last month on weak global demand for goods produced in China, after rising 8.5% in April.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a drop of 0.4% in May.

Imports contracted in May by 4.5% on an annual basis, a figure however higher than the expectations of analysts who anticipated a fall of 8.0%, after a decline of 7.9% the previous month.

“Weak exports confirm that China needs to rely on domestic demand as the global economy slows,” said Zhiwei Zhang, chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management.

“Pressure is mounting on the government to boost domestic consumption over the rest of the year, as global demand is expected to continue to weaken in the second half of the year.”

(Report Joe Cash; Camille Raynaud)

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