China's exports and imports rebound

A worker in a factory in China Image copyright AFP
Image caption China's manufacturing and export sectors have been key drivers of its growth

China's exports and imports rebounded in April, helping allay some fears about a slowdown in its economy.

Exports rose 0.9% from a year earlier, after falling for two straight months. Shipments had dropped 6.6% in March and 18.1% in February.

Imports grew 0.8% from a year ago, reversing the 11.3% decline in March.

The data come as China is looking to move its economy away from an export and investment-led growth model to one driven by domestic consumption.

Some analysts said the latest numbers were likely to provide a boost to policymakers, not least because there have been concerns that the world's second-largest economy may see its growth slow amid the rebalancing efforts.

"The external demand side is not such a big problem for China now, because the genuine recovery is there," said Wei Yao, China economist at Societe Generale in Hong Kong.

"This is actually offering some support to China's growth," she added.

Sustaining growth

China's economy expanded by 7.4% in the first three months of the year, down from 7.7% growth in the previous quarter.

However, a sluggish start for the year is not uncommon for China due to the Lunar New Year holiday when many businesses and factories shut down operations for about two weeks.

For its part, China announced a mini-stimulus in April to help sustain growth.

As part of the stimulus, it said it was extending a tax break for small and medium-sized companies, and ramping up spending on China's railway infrastructure.

Earlier this year, China launched a free-trade zone in Shanghai.

The zone is widely seen as a test bed for reforms in key areas of the economy, such as the financial and telecom sectors which previously were tightly controlled by the government.

Analysts have said that opening up these areas is key to sustaining China's long term economic growth.

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