China's July trade surplus fell 29.6 percent year-on-year to $17.8bn, as imports recorded a larger increase than exports during the month, data from state’s General Customs Administration show.
Exports rose 5.1 percent to $186bn in July from a year ago, while imports jumped 10.9 percent to $168.2bn, according to the data released on Thursday.
The numbers marked a rebound in trade in both directions after exports and imports declined in June, with the gain in imports being the first since April.
Exports slipped 3.1 percent to $174.3bn in June, while imports were down 0.7 percent at $147.1bn, resulting in a 14 percent drop in the trade surplus at $27.1bn, all compared to a year ago.
The July results offered hope that the world's second-largest economy may be stabilising after a slowdown that has prompted the government to shore up activity.
A survey of 14 economists by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast exports to gain a median 2.8 percent and imports to rise 1.3 percent.
The median prediction for the trade surplus was $27.2bn.