China's imports see sharp fall in September

China Shipping Line unloads at the main container port in Hamburg. Image copyright Sean Gallup
Image caption China is trying to move away from an export-led economy to one supported by domestic demand

China saw a sharp fall in the value of its imports last month, figures show, raising further questions over the strength of its economy.

In dollar terms, imports dropped 20.4% from a year earlier to $145.2bn, a steeper fall than had been expected.

The drop was due to lower commodity prices and weaker domestic demand.

Next week, China is due to report its third-quarter growth rate, which is expected to be lower than the 7% annual pace seen in the second quarter.

China recently revised down its growth rate for 2014 from 7.4% to 7.3%, the weakest pace for almost 25 years.

China has been attempting to shift from an export-led economy to a consumer-led one, although the steep fall in imports suggests domestic demand is not as strong as the government would have hoped.

In dollar terms, China's exports fell by 3.7% from a year earlier to $205.6bn - although analysts had forecast a steeper fall.

The country's trade surplus nearly doubled to $60.34bn.

In yuan-denominated terms, imports fell by 17.7% while exports were down 1.1%.

In a research note, economists at ANZ said: "September's import figure does not bode well for industrial production and fixed-asset investment.

"Overall growth momentum last month remained weak and third-quarter GDP growth to be released next Monday will likely have edged down to 6.4% in the third quarter, compared with 7% in the first half."

More on this story