China's exports decreased 3.1 percent on the year in June to $174.32 billion, turning negative from the 1.0 percent growth in May, according to figures released Wednesday by the General Administration of Customs.
Imports were also down 0.7 percent in June on the year to $147.19 billion following a 0.3 percent drop in May.
GAC spokesman Zheng Yuesheng attributed the slump in foreign trade mainly to weak global demand, a rising yuan, higher labor costs, various trade friction and faltering domestic demand, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
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He said in the short term, all these risks cannot be eliminated, so China's foreign trade faces difficulties and challenges ahead.
China's total foreign trade grew 13.5 percent in the first quarter, year on year, but only 4.3 percent in the second quarter. It grew just 0.3 percent in May and then fell 2 percent in June.
The customs statistics also showed that for the first half of 2013, China's exports rose 10.4 percent to $1.05 trillion, while imports increased 6.7 percent to $944.87 billion.
Bilateral trade with Japan during the first half was valued at $146.92 billion, down 9.3 percent year on year, while that with the European Union fell 3.1 percent. But trade with the United States increased by 5.6 percent and that with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations was up 12.2 percent.
Zheng said faltering domestic demand has reduced China's appetite for commodities and resources.