The renminbi value of China’s exports grew far slower than anticipated in February as growth in imports spiked.

In local currency terms imports rose 44.7 per cent in February, according to the General Administration of Customs, pushing higher from growth of 25.2 per cent the month prior and easily besting median forecast of 23.1 per cent form economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

Exports rose just 4.2 per cent last month, dropping from growth of 15.9 per cent in January. That was well below a median forecast predicting a 14.6 per cent rise.

Those trade flows shook out to a trade deficit of Rmb60.4bn, far below expectations of an Rmb172.5bn surplus and representing the first deficit in renminbi terms since February 2014, when the country saw a deficit of Rmb137bn.

Stay tuned for trade in dollar terms, a set of more closely-watched figures that typically arrive shortly after renminbi trade data.

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